While 3D printing is still novel to most people who haven’t worked closely with it, we are truly just starting to see the full picture of its potential come into view. The industry for 3D printing and similar technologies as a whole, called Additive Manufacturing, is at the beginning of a boom of enormous magnitude. Experts in manufacturing, economics, and computing are calling this decade the start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (named after a fascinating book of the same name by Klaus Schwab). The previous so-called third industrial revolution was that of the digital, with computers and microprocessors revolutionizing the world in ways we are still discovering, so the idea that many think that these new additive manufacturing technologies will contribute societal changes just as big is an incredible thought.
Perhaps one of the most exciting and underrated aspects of additive manufacturing is the open-source and collaborative element behind the community. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can get online and download other projects or plans and begin contributing and editing to them, refining the process, and educating others about the amazing technology. One of the most important parts about technological literacy has been the free and open access to the technologies from a young age. We can see it in our young generations or our children, that they can nearly instantly pick up and learn a new technology and surpass their predecessor’s level of knowledge in it.
There are researchers currently working on 3D printing human tissues, such as bones or organs, to replace those lost by people suffering from injury or disease. Space technology companies are designing 3D printers to launch to other planetary bodies to collect the metallic dust and debris elements from the surface and begin printing that material into habitable bases and research facilities. Even hobbyist 3D printer users and new startups are looking into printing concrete, metallic alloys, and ceramics here on earth that will revolutionize building homes and businesses.
By the end of the decade, we could be seeing these and even more unbelievable advances in manufacturing technologies, and we are fortunate enough to be at the ground level. The Library offers a space that is constantly striving to add these new and important technologies to our community, and our Creation Station is the perfect place to engage with them and learn about them often and early. The person who designs the next 3D printed space station, solves the global supply chain issues we have all been dealing with, or revolutionizes the medical field may just get their start by learning about 3D printers at his or her local library.
Learn more about our 3D printers and the Library’s makerspace at natronacountylibrary.org/creation-station