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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
How helpful is 3-D printing?
    2017-June-5  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Joseph Lotfy

Michaelnagy99@hotmail.com

WANT to buy a house? OK, let me print it out for you. Technology has advanced so greatly that one man’s ingenious invention could possibly help not hundreds but millions of lives. Chuck Hull is the creative genius who created something amazing and helpful that will impact millions of lives across the world.

So, what exactly is 3-D printing? Imagine for a second you needed something special like: a heart transplant, a new house but at a cheaper price, or even a sculpture for a new park that you could print in a few days instead of carving it from stone. These are things that could be made with 3-D printing at a cheaper price. 3-D printing is a rectangular box with different molds (according to the shape of the object you want to print) that’s connected to a computer and it uses lasers to print out the objects that you want layer-by-layer. Every object is different so the printing time will vary depending on the object, some may take just a few minutes and others a few days depending on the size of the objects.

Hull made 3-D printing a reality in one night but it took several years of playing with different types of materials before it came to fruition.

He played around with a class of materials called “photopolymers,” these are typically acrylic-based materials that remain as liquids until they’re hit with — let’s say — an ultraviolet light. Then, they instantly turn solid. “So, you have a vat of this liquid and a beam of ultraviolet light, and you turn it into a solid piece of plastic,” Hull said, according to a CNN article by Nick Glass.

So the question you may be asking yourself is, why should we as humans depend on or use 3-D printing? Because 3-D printing does things at a quicker rate than standard manufacturing, it is convenient, cheaper and quite possibly will be able to save millions of lives by printing organs.

All of these criteria could not be met before, but now they can be. Hull practically became an overnight sensation with the invention of 3-D printing, and his invention can now be used in different industries that would have never collaborated before.

Doctors can print new and functioning organs for patients with faulty organs. How many patients have faulty organs and are waiting for a new organ? Over 117,000 people currently and just about every 10 minutes or so another person is added to the waiting list, according to studymode.com. One person is too many, but we as a society need to do something about it, and maybe it comes in the form of 3-D printing.

How about printing a new house piece-by-piece making the construction both faster and cheaper than it would have been if it was built by contractors. Feasibly with 3-D printing, contractors would be able to build a community of houses or a series of apartment complexes in only a few months. Another beneficial quality of 3-D printing is that it would make construction more environmentally friendly and less laborious for contractors.

However, 3-D printers are not cheap, they range from US$200 to US$1,000 or more in America, or a few thousand yuan in China on the online shopping website Taobao.

Ninety key industry insiders estimate that 3-D printing could have a total market value of US$24 billion by the year 2027, according to the website www.idtechex.com. They are also experimenting with other types of materials like silicone, wood, glass and graphene to see if they can also be printed.

On the other hand, this could become a detrimental problem where thieves are printing out counterfeit money, locks and keys like the real ones. We could be accepting fake money unknowingly, or not noticing that someone has replaced a lock with a fake one so they could steal something valuable.

There will always be pros and cons to every new technology so it’s up to us to decide how we are going to deal with it.

Yet, we should not just think about the negative aspects of 3-D printing, instead we should think about the good it will bring to society and how it could improve the lives of regular people. People around the world are asking for solutions in our daily world, and Hull is someone that took an idea and has created something that was previously never considered possible. His intention was not to do simple printing, but to create something new for the new generation.

(The author is a businessman and freelance writer from America.)

 

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