Imagine being able to simply walk up to your printer and press a “pizza” button instead of going through the hassle of cooking,.
I didn’t think such a luxury was possible until I learned about the astonishing work of 3-D printers. The “Foodini,” a 3-D printer in development that makes food, is just one of the limitless possibilities that this new technology creates. Yet, while I wouldn’t mind being able to print my meals, the potential dangers of 3-D printers are even more astonishing.
The technology of 3-D printing, developed in 1986, takes computer models and uses different materials to print real, physical objects. Saying that 3-D printers can hypothetically make almost anything is not an overstatement; these machines can make toys, jewelry, instruments, clothing and many other items. Though, aren’t these already mass manufactured and available in retail stores worldwide? With factories and their machines already making these products efficiently, what is the use in a machine that costs thousands of dollars when it makes the same things Wal-Mart sells?
Instead, the focus of this rapidly developing technology should be its ability to produce gun parts and even whole firearms. While, in most states, guns aren’t available for sale without a permit and background check, the 3-D printer can make guns completely made of plastics that are lethal — a dangerous loophole.
The benefit that this new technology provides is outweighed by the immediate threat on individuals. There’s just nothing cool about that. These plastic guns pose a threat to security in airports, courts and, really, any location imaginable as it’s difficult to detect them with standard metal detectors. In the wrong hands, a 3-D printer threatens everyday life.
Some 3-D printer supporters say that these machines have already made a tremendous impact on the health industry, as professionals can now print prosthetic limbs, custom leg braces and hearing aids. As an aspiring doctor, I am fascinated by the prospect of yet another technology that is able to produce prosthetic limbs, but I don’t see any new benefits from it. After all, even ancient literature references prosthetic limbs; prosthetic limbs were used by the Greeks and Romans. They’re not exactly breaking news.
In 2013, the first 3-D printed metal gun was created, firing 50 rounds of ammo. A lethal weapon made from simply pressing a button definitely isn’t described in ancient literature. The introduction of 3-D printers just adds more anxiety to boarding a flight or walking the streets at night.
For years, the music and video industries have suffered from illegal downloads. I confess that I haven’t bought an album in a while. Now imagine that Apple, one of today’s top companies, struggling to sell its trendy iPhone; 3-D printing can make that a reality. With the various materials that a 3-D printer can now use to print, extremely complex products can potentially be made, including iPhones, designer watches and other top-notch products. This would cause a disaster in copyright violations that could affect the majority of properous industries prosperous. I wouldn’t pay $200 for an iPhone if I can get a functioning replica cheaper, and I bet most people wouldn’t either.
Printed food isn’t worth the threat of printed guns. I would rather just make the home-cooked meal.