• Kristen Miller

the wonders of 3D printing


Take a second and look at the following pictures. What are the similarities and differences between the top picture and the bottom picture? Make some mental notes, then keep reading.

For those of us who aren't up with current technology, I'd like to introduce you to the wonders of 3D printing. I had never heard of 3D printing until I started my "Innovation & Design" pathway at a local high school a few years back. One of the new just-out-of-college teachers I was working with mentioned how awesome 3D printers were. We chatted for a bit, then I did some research in preparation for my pathway.

And oh. my. goodness.

3D printers are amazing.

For those of us who use the term "printing" fairly often, we think of printing an essay, printing a poster, printing a photograph, a flyer, etc. All of these involve a printer that prints words/images on a 2-dimensional (2D) piece of paper, card stock, etc. Ink is placed on the paper strategically to make something cohesive and legible in one form or another. 3D printers, on the other hand, are printers that take long spools of filament (a fancy word for plastic), and heat the plastic up, then build layer upon layer of this plastic strategically to combine together into something 3D & oftentimes functional. The video below gives you a brief introduction if you're a visual person like I am:

Pretty cool, huh? As mentioned in the video, various industries are actually using 3D printers to print things like tools, clothing, shoes, food and even body parts (also known as bioprinting), as shown in this video:

As you can see in these two videos (and you can search thousands of others on YouTube), 3D printing can be used for really wonderful, amazing causes and help propel our world into another dimension where anything is possible.

But there's a downside too.

Remember the pictures I opened this blog with? One of the guns in these pictures has parts printed using a 3D printer. Some of you may be saying to yourself, "Ok it might LOOK like a gun, but there's no way it can actually WORK like a real gun." Sadly, you'd be wrong in thinking so. The video below shows Cody Wilson, owner/founder of Defense Distributed, who printed parts to his own assault rifle and was proudly showing it off saying, "How's that national conversation going?"

This video/documentary was made in 2013, at which point 3D printing technology was still relatively new. Here we are five years later and with this technology booming, anyone who wants to build their own fully-functional weapon can do so, and create whatever type of destruction they desire. There have been numerous attempts to block this type of technology and its implications (like Everytown for Gun Safety's petitions), but those attempts have failed. Beginning August 1, 2018 (that's this Wednesday, as the new school year begins), anyone can download and 3D print their own gun as they desire.

SCARY.

The point of this blog is not to scare everyone into oblivion or paint a grim picture of the future, it's to shed light on the fact that with technological advances increasing at warp speed, there are only SO MANY infrastructure rules/regulations we can put in place to stop school shootings. The bottom line is THERE IS A PERSON BEHIND THE GUN, and that person is crying out for help. If we don't start recognizing that the REAL solution to school shootings lies in helping the PEOPLE shooting the guns, we're in for some serious destruction that won't stop until we take a more proactive stance.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

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