The Social Impact of 3-D Printing

A few short years ago, 3-D printers began to emerge as a technology that promised to harness the automation and digital precision of computers and translate them into complex physical structures in the real world. No longer bound by dimension or material, we began to see inventive and dynamic new methods of creating objects both strange and familiar. Even now, the wonder and excitement surrounding 3-D printing continues unabated as pioneers equipped with this technology embark on humanitarian missions around the world.

No industry has been upended as substantially by the development of 3-D printing the way prosthetics have. Once expensive, bulky and difficult to personalize, the conversion from metal to printed plastic has meant nothing short of a revolution in personalized prosthetics that can now be constantly augmented and updated as their users mature, grow and change. Efforts to introduce this life changing innovation to warzones in Africa have underscored the efficacy, simplicity and scalability of the technology, and these early victories have served to further galvanize innovators.

Numerous advancements in medicine have been touted as a result of the emergence of 3-D technology. From colleges training medical students with printed plastic models digitally constructed in exacting detail from a scan of a patient’s ailing heart, to actually printing living organs made of biological material, there will soon be no advanced medical laboratory that is without a 3-D printer. Although this latter ability still remains beyond our current grasp, researchers are confident that the paradigm shift from donated to printed organs is imminent.

But as we marvel at the innovation that is being undergone, there are other, fundamental uses for these printers that are being constantly discovered. The culinary world is reeling from its introduction to the myriad uses of a printer loaded with prepared ingredients instead of ink or plastic, and for some the shock has still not worn off after first seeing a machine carefully placing circles of tomato sauce and cheese in an attempt to create the world’s first printed pizza.

These examples and more demonstrate clearly the importance and the rise to prominence of a powerful new tool, one that can be used for the good of all humanity. In the attendant articles, you will read of specific lives that have been touched by the newfound availability of 3-D printing, and of the hope that this revolutionary technology has brought to some of the darkest corners of the world.

It is impossible to know just how much the world has changed and will change because of this tremendous forward progress. But if the recent successes are any indication, 3-D printers and the innovators and humanitarians who use them will be helping those in need for many years to come.

Hollywood Producer Creates Products for Humanity

Award-winning Hollywood producer Mick Ebeling is the embodiment of Walt Disney’s famous quote: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” With his aptly named nonprofit organization, Not Impossible, founded in 2000 and based in Venice, California, Mick has used his abundant ingenuity and passion to create products that are life-changers for those who desperately need them. READ MORE

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3-D Printed Exoskeletons Give Children Hope

For the soon-to-be parents of Hannah Mohn, the news that their daughter would be born with Arthrogryposis, and that surviving the birth event would be a difficult process, the jubilation and anticipation of their new family turned to trepidation and dread.

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3-D Printing Saves Children's Lives

One of the most joyous moments for new parents is the day they finally get to take their newborn home from the hospital. But for some parents when their child is born, the hospital stay has only just begun. This is the case for families of children born with a combination of heart defects known collectively as the Tetralogy of Fallot, which is best known for being the most common cause of blue baby syndrome.

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