The other day I got a message from an overtly excited friend of mine, who was like: “Can you imagine?! HP’s gonna release 3D printers for the public!” I responded with an equally excited message (Yay!), but to be honest, I couldn’t imagine. The point of 3D printing still escapes my mind, or maybe it’s just the term itself that makes my mind boggle. 3D. Printing. As far as I understand, these “printers” are machines that allow you to create basically anything you want, it’s like sculpting only automatic, right? However, while I’m still baffled about the concept there are people who are not so sure about the advantages of 3D printing.
One of these people is Anthony Zurcher, an Editor at Echo Chambers. In his article on BBC, he says that although 3D printing can revolutionize the manufacturing industry in the long run, it also raises a whole lot of questions that need to be answered right away. And in this case, I think the questions are obvious – if anyone is able to use 3D printing, then how can we be sure that it will not be used for dangerous purposes? I mean, the industry is still in its “nascent form” as it has been mentioned in the article, so no one can print out guns or anything (wow, does that sound bizarre or what?), but we can never know what to expect in the future, when 3D printing evolves.
Alright, perhaps I was too extreme on this one, because actually the main issue related to 3D printing is that it can actually undermine the structure of our own capitalist societies. Imagine that – if I can make whatever I need in the back of my room with a printer, why would I go to retailers and buy it? Anthony Zurcher quotes Greg Beat from Reason magazine saying that the disruption of manufacturing can result in striking a blow to “the heart of government”: “Once the retail and manufacturing carnage starts to scale, the government carnage will soon follow. How can it not, when only old people pay sales tax, fewer citizens obtain their incomes from traditional easy-to-tax jobs, and large corporate tax payers start folding like daily newspapers? Without big business, big government can’t function”.
I personally believe that nations and societies can function in various systems, and our current one might not necessarily be the best. After all, each system has its own drawbacks. So if 3D printing was to ensue a confusion or disturbance, the most important thing would be how we are able to handle it.
There are actually more pros and cons to 3D printing which I strongly recommend reading up in Zurcher’s article. Although I can’t really wrap my mind around the entire thing yet, you’ve gotta admit, that it’s a trend, and with our well-connected society it will soon evolve into something big. The scale of consequences will depend on how we manage to deal with the outcomes.
P.S. Sorry for being MIA quite a lot lately. Working different shifts literally KILLS you.