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Need a Prosthesis or a Spare Part? Print One at Home…

The future is here… I have heard about it, but have yet seen an actual application or use. I’m talking about 3D printers, and the ability to make useable items & spare/replacement parts at will in your home. That’s right… I said “print one” at home!

Here’s the buzz… One day soon, every household will have a 3D printer. Instead of going to the store to purchase an item or spare part to fix a broken appliance, etc., you will instead purchase a download online. Once you open this download on your computer, you will then simply hit “Print”, and before you know it, your item will appear.

Seems crazy right? Well… Not as crazy as it sounds. There are individuals who are already using these printers in their daily lives, and with great success. In fact, I ran across this news story recently that I felt I had to share. It was about a boy with a birth defect who didn’t have any fingers on his left hand. Frustrated with the cost of a prosthesis, his father happened to stumble across a design for a 3D printable prosthetic. The rest is history… His son now has a basic prosthetic that has actually changed his life for the better, and the best news for the father is that it only cost a few dollars to make. See the video here.
While this innovation seems very promising in making our lives easier, I can’t seem to get past how it could also further change our lives as we know it for the worst. One of the most fearful aspects that crossed my mind almost immediately, is how will this technology affect jobs in the future. If 3D printers become so mainstream that anyone can basically afford to own or rent one, and if nearly anything can be printed on one, will there be any need to keep factories open? Plus, if there are no factories, won’t the logistic industries be the next to take a huge hit?
To me, there are still a lot of unanswered implications of such a device, which I’m sure will soon come to light, as mainstream has already begun the process of adopting this new technology. Printers are already on the market for consumer use at around $2000. For now, only time will tell how this technology will truly impact life as we know it, but you have to admit… it is pretty neat!

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