I recently read this article about a father making his son a prosthetic hand using 3D Printing technology.
I had first read about 3D printing in Wired Magazine several years ago. At the time my thoughts were that the only benefit to 3D printing would be for prototyping. With the invention of 3D printing, designers and inventors can easily adjust their prototypes, thus, indirectly, decreasing the lead-time on product design and manufacturing as well as the expense of tooling up an assembly line to create a product that may have design issues.
“However, any invention may have unintended consequences.”
When Twitter was launched, the founders did not anticipate it would be the alternative communications tool used in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Fukushima and caused outages of the cell phone network. The Arab Spring would not have sprung like wildfire in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria beginning in December 2010 (and still on-going) without Twitter and Facebook as tools to organize, activate and broadcast citizens’ protests and demonstrations.
“No one planned how Twitter and Facebook would be used, it just evolved.”
Similarly, until I read this article about a prosthetic hand created by a portable 3D printer, I did not see the infinite possibilities of 3D printing. All of a sudden, I can see 3D printing creating robots, lamps even real cars (and guns?). Check out this article on “What can 3D printing do? Here are 6 creative examples.”
We’ve had a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to see the impact of smart phones and social media unfold in front of our eyes. I foresee 3D printing changing our lives in unexpected and revolutionary ways, just as smart phones and social media have.
We are only in the first chapter of 3D printing. Invention is an evolutionary process and the process continues.