by Shiraa Noumbissie-Nzefa
Imagine a world where we could have any object we’d like with just a click of a button. Unrealistic, you say? It might have once been so, but it is not so out of reach anymore.
Also known under the name of additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a rapidly growing industry. It works by building three-dimensional objects starting from a digital model. In order to so, it will print each layer of the object on top of each other until the user has the constructed object in front of them. This is a very useful technique as it permits the user to have a clear object as long as there is a digital plan of it. This greatly reduces the cost of production in industrial settings, as it enables each prototype to be printed independently in order to catch any mistakes early on.
The implications of such a readily available technique are simply staggering: from a biomedical engineer to a diehard Minecraft fan, anyone can use this technology.
The most famous operations involving 3D printing have been in the biomedical field. There was an article about the first surgery involving a 3D-printed skull about a year ago, yet the uses have become much more globalized ever since. Not only can we now produce various working organs such as kidneys, but we can also create other mechanic devices like planes or even a dress!
However, 3D printing is not so appreciated by everyone. Indeed, a little more than a year ago, there was an outcry in the United States concerning the printing of plastic firearms. The danger of those undetectable firearms was that they could easily go through a metal detector undetected, thus rendering their task as protective agents useless. Even then, 3D printing has become more visible and accessible than ever before, even available to some university students. Various universities across the globes let their students have access to 3D printers, including big names such as Harvard and Penn State. Furthermore, even closer to home, ETS (école de technologie supérieure) has a fully functioning 3D printer available to its students that they can use for various assignments.
With such big advancements in the field of 3D printing, we can soon hope to model and print our favourite items by ourselves, thus bypassing the need for personal commissions that still might not be exactly what we hoped for. In fact, only a few weeks ago, Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. commissionned a 3D-printed arm for one of his seven-year-old fan born with a malformed one. Witnessing the smile on the young boy’s face after he first moved his bionic fingers was a truly amazing moment that showed us all the wonders of 3D printing.
After all, who wouldn’t like to have a figurine of themselves on their desks?