Saturday, August 15, 2015

The machines of Future and 3D printing

Amazing things are possible in the world of science and technology. Albert Einstein rightly said "Facts can be stranger than fiction". Consider the first computer or the Babbage's analytical engine and compare it to the fastest computer today, or even your desktop/laptop or mobile phone for that matter. Your mobile phone is way more powerful than than the first computer or even computers that were used around 20 years ago.

3D printing is only now catching up, people are mesmerised by the power of 3d printing. The 3D printing machines are getting cheaper, better and faster. Engineers are working on technologies to 3D print houses, already some residential structures are made by 3D printing and that too in a very short amount of time.

Looking forward, with 3D printing technology, in the future we may have 3D printer that can print out other 3D printing machines. Only the raw materials have to be provided to the 3D printers for that purpose.

Now consider the example of a tree. A tree normally germinates out of the seed. It absorbs the nutrients from the soil along with water and with the help of sunlight it carries out the process of photosynthesis and produces its own food. Almost every part of a plant or tree is edible to some animal or other.

Micro-organisms and termites eat the wood; ants, cattle etc eat the leaves and other animals as well as humans can consume the fruits. The fruits themselves contain the seeds that can again give birth to a new plant. This is a beautiful self controlled food generation system of nature.

Now as humans can we intervene and make a 3D printer that can mimic this process. Just as the plants, trees etc absorb nutrients and water from the soil, in a similar way we can provide soil and water as the raw materials to the machine and the machine then converts the soil and water into more basic substances and then produce the stuff that we want be it food, wood or any other organic material. In theory this is possible.

3D printing has achieved the above mentioned dream to some extent. NASA is planning to make 3D printers for astronauts to give them 3d printed food in space. There are already 3D printed artificial animal tissues being made. So it is technologically possible to have 3D printed meat, hence a 3D printed artificial hamburger is a possibility that one cannot deny.

The problems that technology created in the past like air, water and noise pollution have their solutions in technology as well. The air pollution caused by cars and coal fired power plants can be sorted out by utilization of wind, tidal and solar power.

The technology of 3D printing is most promising. In the future our houses, cars and almost everything maybe 3d printed. 3D printed items are also cheaper, there have been prosthetic limbs made for amputees that are customised for their needs and they are cheaper than the traditionally manufactured prosthetics.

 An example is given in the video below.

You can see how this 3D printed prosthetic arm not only costs less but also it is better in terms of functionality since it is customised for the amputee, depending on the structure and functionality of the portion of the body that is incomplete. 

Note that the above video is an example of the current state of technology, this technology will advance in the future and amazing things will be possible.

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