By: Sydney Wolk
Technological innovations have a huge impact on societies on the local, national, and even global level. One major technological innovation that is rising in society is the ability to 3D print using metal material. Just over 30 years ago, 3D printing was developed with the invention of stereolithography apparatus (SLA), which uses plastic material to 3D print designs. Within the past 10 years, 3D printers have developed to have the ability to print metals designs using the metals powder form. This new development allows many companies to 3D print parts on site instead of waiting for them to arrive from factories that are potentially overseas.
Overall, I would say that this innovation would have a negative impact on global society. If companies have the ability to print parts on site, then they lose the interest or desire to have connections with overseas factories that normally would specialize in producing and distributing these parts. For instance, car companies such as BMW or Audi have partnered with 3D printing companies and, since 2016, have begun to 3D print specialized metal parts for their vehicles. This ability limits BMW’s need to lean on countries, like Germany, that produce over 50% of the vehicle parts. This development could drastically decrease trade or the desire to trade.
This development could also impact our day to day lives. With this new development, we gain access to unique designs and shapes that could only be created from 3D printing. This could mean new games/puzzles such as a Multi-Part Cube or Gear Box. Or it could even mean printing pieces to replace broken metals parts in factories or maybe even printer/fax machines in an office The addition of printing these pieces in metal parts really has no limits, except for size at the moment. There is no clear end to how much 3D printing metals can have to our lives, work, or play.