Should We Be Afraid of 3D Printers?

Every day, it seems that technology is bringing us something new. It was less than a decade ago that the first true modern smartphone, the iPhone, was introduced, setting off a mad dash amongst competitors to create similar mobile devices. It was under five years ago that the first tablet was introduced, again by Apple, when they stunned the world with their first iPad. To realize just how much impact these innovations have had, just look around you, whether you are at your office, a local pub or even walking down the street. It appears that everyone is using them. In the last year or so, 3D printing has become all the rage. These printers literally allow you to produce output in three dimensions, rather than the two that we are normally used to. A company in the UK showed off a bicycle that they built entirely from paper using a 3D printer. It was solid and dependable and proved that the concept was viable. However, some new uses for 3D printing have been announced which underscore a darker side to this innovation.

3D Firearms? Seriously?

Recently, a company in Texas announced that they had produced a real working gun, made out of metal, using a 3D printer. They presented pictures of it on their webpage and posted videos showing how it worked and boasted of its accuracy. As you can imagine, law enforcement officials are more than just worried. In the United States especially, there is arguably an overabundance of guns and the recent tragedies that we read about across the country are an indication of how much violence and suffering they can cause. Can you imagine what would happen if criminals were able to reproduce guns from a 3D printer, which would be completely untraceable and then go on whatever crime spree they wanted? It really does boggle the imagination.

Using 3D Printing Responsibly

There are of course many uses for this novel way of printing. Even airplane engine manufacturers have announced that they can use the technology to inexpensively produce parts for their engines, potentially cutting down on production time and cost. There is no doubt that many different industries will find many common sense uses for this technology, helping them to introduce new products quickly or even provide replacement parts on-the-fly. Hopefully, the criminal potential of 3D printing will fade into the background quietly.

3D Printing As Art

Fortunately, there are those who see other potentials for this new technology. Artists in particular are fascinated by what this new medium can do. It is therefore possibly no surprise that just recently, an exhibit of artists works was inaugurated at the London Business Design Centre. Not only are prominent London artists featured, but also others from around the world. The fact that the show has doubled in size from last year, which was its inaugural year bodes well for the medium. In fact, the organizers expect to double every year for the next decade. But let us not forget the value of traditional printing for advertising any product that you have to sell. Keep in mind that banner printing in London is an excellent way to reach a mass audience, quickly and efficiently. You may very well be surprised by the excellent results such a campaign will produce.

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