By Ashley Dinkheller
3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but wasn’t until early 2010 that the printers became widely known and available commercially. There has been controversy about whether 3D printing is a good or bad thing for the technological world.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. A 3D printer is an industrial robot that carries out an additive process under computer control. Multiple layers of material are laid down in different shapes to create the image desired into a model. “A 3D printer creates 3D objects by cutting plastic to shape it,” states Sophomore Alex Page.
How exactly can this little machine help? Doctors are beginning to use them to print prosthetics for their patients, whereas car dealerships like Ford and GM are prototyping brake rotors, shift knobs, and other car parts. “I think a 3D printer would benefit many people. Big design companies and maybe filmmakers would benefit most. As long as they know how to create designs, they can make almost anything they want and not have to pay other people to do so,” voices Senior Christina Boustani. With the 3D printer, it gives an idea of what the product will turn out like. The beauty of 3D printing will allow businesses and schools to create materials that we can base projects off of to better the community.
Before 3D printing, traditional methods of creating structures and shapes was limited on what could be cut and molded. The nozzle of the printer can create many intricate figures, allowing ones imagination to run wild. With this tool, it gives the structure more durability making it easier to use. “A pro of 3D printing can be that people can use it for healing and information,” praises Senior Theo Wallen. Combining materials you need isn’t always possible when having to make a compilation of items at a time, due to high costs in their physical and chemical properties. 3D printing is dependent on one thing, and that one thing is plastic. Yes, plastic. Although, companies now provide different raw materials with finishes on them to feel and look like glass, ceramics or metal with different strengths and temperature resistances. 3Dsystems.com expresses that 3D printing helps companies save up to 70 percent of their costs for manufacturing, due to the use of reliable and cheaper materials, also packaging and shipping costs.
“A con of 3D printing is that people can print virtually anything,” explains Sophomore Amanda Collins. Although very beneficial, a 3D printer could virtually create dangerous items like a gun, or a knife with very little mistake. A big disadvantage to 3D printing is having fewer manufacturing jobs. Even though this isn’t the only thing that can lessen those chances of humans getting the job, it can, and will have a large impact to the economies of third world countries that depend on a large number of low skill jobs, like China.
As time progresses, 3D printing will be so widely known, that you will most likely own one in your home. They may even be able to create your dream house by that time! “I see 3D printing helping to create props and concepts for movies, cars, etc. and opening up industry even more for people with skills in technology- increasing the importance of it,” comments Junior Melanie Niarhos. 3D printing will give businesses the models they need to start creating items we can use on a day to day basis.
When students were polled at Viera High School on what they would like to make if they owned their own 3D printer, Freshman Parker Howard responded with “I would print food; so that I would never have to buy any.” Not only could that happen in the future of 3D printing, but they will be affordable for many of us to own in our home. They run on amazon.com for around three hundred dollars, yet the most expensive is a little less than two thousand. What exactly will 3D printing bring to our world as time goes on, or as the technology and resources for it grow.