Many of us have heard of or uttered the words: “technology is the future.” Today, truer words have never been spoken. With the growing advancements of 3D printing it looks like technology is well on the way to not only improving, but saving humanity.
Let’s examine 5 ways that 3D printing is making the world a better place.
Saving Rhinos From Extinction
Due to the rising population of the middle class in East and South-East Asia, rhino horns are becoming a hotter commodity due to their medicinal purposes. The value of rhino horns is so high, they are now worth more than gold. As a result, poachers are going on wild killing sprees in parts of South Africa. To give you an idea on the increased demand, there were approximately 17 rhino deaths in 2007. Last year, that number climbed to 1,215, making rhinos an endangered species.
The rhino population has become so scarce, that military soldiers are now guarding the few remaining animals (4 female and 1 male) on 24-hour surveillance.
Thankfully, Seattle’s bioengineering startup Pembient has come up with a solution to stave off the profit-driven hunger of the black market. By creating a horn replica, the team behind Pembient hopes to replace the illegal black market wildlife trade by creating ‘products’ to replace the real thing. By replacing this $20B market (which is the fourth largest after drugs, arms and human trafficking) with sustainable commerce, it is safe to say that Pembient could save the rhino population.
The housing crisis is a worldwide phenomenon that affects approximately 2 billion people. An inventor and his team in China recently developed 10 homes in approximately 24 hours with the use of 3D printing.
Not only are these homes and buildings being created in record time, but they are also using existing waste from construction sites. The clever use of construction waste, cement and binders makes this project cost effective and environmentally friendly.
The benefits of implementing 3D printing for homes in communities of need would not only resolve the housing crisis. It also demonstrates affordability, sustainability and leadership within these communities.
Creators of 3D printed prosthetics are also democratizing access to prosthetics limbs for those in need. These advancements in technology also ensures greater affordability and faster access (in some cases as little as 24 hours!). These 3D printed prosthetics are being created for humans and animals with diverse needs on a universal scale. There is a high demand for prosthetics in areas like Sierra Leone for amputees who have lived through war.
Healthy and Sustainable Food Printing
Chloé Rutzerveld has a vision of a sustainable foodie future with her Edible Growth project. Her “healthy and sustainable” snacks are – you guessed it – 3D printed ‘living’ organisms and include a mixture of seeds, spores and years which grow within a few short days. The intricate design is a work of art, and her project reflects how 3D printing could revolutionaize the food industry. Chloé presented her project and scientific findings during Dutch Design Week in 2014, which included the prototype of her sustainable snacks. In the centre of the ‘basket’ contains agar, which is a gelatinous substance that allows the seeds and spores to grow. Within a few days, the flavours also develop and eventually you are left with possibly the healthiest, prettiest snack on the planet.
A 27 year old Israeli fashion student is changing the future of clothing design and production. Danit Peleg recently created her entire collection from her home using – you guessed it – a 3D printer (several, actually). She hopes to democratize fashion by making haute designs accessible to anyone with access to a 3D printer.
What are your thoughts on 3D printing?