3D Printing – A Step Towards The Future

3D PRINTING – A STEP TOWARDS THE FUTURE

By Aditi Singh

JANUARY 2017

Every once in a while, there comes about an invention that baffles us and changes our lives dramatically. 3D printing is one such invention. 3D printing has been in use for several years in certain areas such as manufacturing, and the aerospace and automotive industries. So what’s new about it now?

The healthcare industry has been growing rapidly because of the advances in technology – increased precision, lesser errors – we are heading closer and closer to perfection. One step closer to that very perfection is 3D printing. By 3D printing various CT scans, doctors will be able to diagnose illnesses, rehearse surgeries as well as create surgical guides. Here’s how. The process of 3D printing includes manually entering geometric data into a computer and forming it into graphics, a process that has been compared to digital sculpting.

The computer then scans the sculpture and forms a physical, three dimensional model of the desired piece. The million dollar question is whether it will work or not. The answer to that question is one that most people, even surgeons still find hard to believe.


A 3D printed leg cast

For what appears to be the first time in history, doctors were able to use 3D printing technology during a facial reconstruction surgery to help a man – Stephen Power. At the Morriston hospital, his doctors were able to print a symmetrical 3D Model of the man’s skull and further cut the mould with printed plated to restructure Stephen’s face. An 8 hour long surgery, countless hours of thinking, hundreds of hands working in unison did not go to waste as the surgery was a life altering success for Stephen as well as for the whole of human kind.

3D technology has also helped doctors reconnect a number of veins, arteries, and tissue grafts. Not only are these printers changing and evolving medicine, but also have been used to design technology that can be used in space, in zero gravity situations. So what’s holding us back?

The most obvious of these dangers is the ability for anyone, anywhere, to eventually have the means of fabricating a weapon such as a firearm. As the technology progresses and new composite materials are brought to market over the next few years, the problems will only mount. No doubt, 3D printers are a risk. Lethal and Life-giving go hand in hand while referring to these machines. However, the pros outweigh the cons. We cannot completely stop terrorists for looking for new faster ways to kill people but it’s high time we began to develop better, faster ways to save them, don’t you think?