Week 5 Response|3D Printing

photo credits to wikipedia

From the woodblock prints, lithography, chromolithography, to the now every-day use laser jet printing, they have provided us the access to mass production in the 2D aspect. More recently, we have also taken care of the 3D aspect through 3D printing, this technology allows us to print basically anything that we want: from basic model to something more functional like gadgets for the machines, human body parts, and even food. However, great responsibility comes with great prices. 3d printing will raise issues regarding possible economical loss for the manufacturer, ethical issues, and weapon control. It is impossible to talk about all these issues in a 400-500 words response, so I am just going to talk about the first issue specifically: the dangers for manufacturer in the upcoming future.

3D printing is done by printing layers on top of each other. Just like how 2D printing does it by printing left to right, 3D printing does it the similar way except the special material ink they use is layered on top of the other, creating a physical object. The ink solidifies quickly as the printing continues, as it is needed to support the ink on top. The ink can be plastics, powder, ceramics, metal, and much more. As much simple and cool as it may sounds, this technology will shoot away thousand jobs that rely on producing products either with their own hands or through factory machine. Imagine having a 3D printer at home, and your television is broken because your chord that connects to the network just burnt out, you can simply print a new one without going out to buy it or call customer support from the television company. There will be thousands of examples like this where we can just print out the gadgets ourselves to fix the products we have. We can even create a new computer from scratch just by assembling the printed gadget ourselves. This easy access no longer let us consume the products that are produced from the market, as a result, thousands of manufacturers will lose jobs. Remember when mechanical robots first came out during the industrial revolution and replaced the human workers performing the assembly line? Similarly, this will happen in the future.

Of course, 3D printing still has loopholes that need to be fixed as this technology is still new when it is just introduced to the market. I remember printing my first ever 3D printing project for ICAM 40. Although it was just a simple design, the final product was not exactly how I imagined it would be. There is a specific way you need to design your model so that it can print the layer on top of each other. Of course there are better printers that can fix this issue, but that would cost way more money to have access to that printer. The school printer we have already costs thousand dollars, so imagine the better one. The ink too would cost a lot of money to buy. This just proves that the access to this technology is still difficult to reach considering the economical aspects. However, the span of time to reach this access would only decrease as technology advances.

-Kammy Yuan


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