Technology innovations have taken various shapes and forms over the years. Most have been conceptual to the user such as Cloud Computing, Software-as-a-Service (Saas) and others have been more hardware based. One of the promises of this technological ingenuity was a paper-free home and work environment. Everything would be produced and stored electronically and thus rendering paper irrelevant. This brings up the question “why is the printer such an important piece of technology?”
Love it or not, we’re human beings and live in a materialistic world where no matter how much technology advances and surrounds us, there will always be situations where we just need things physically written down on paper in order for us to understand a message or a set of instructions. Whatever the case may be, the printer is undoubtedly a great and important technological innovation.
Did you know that the printing industry has been taken by storm and has evolved? I’m talking about 3D printing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing). Okay. You knew that already, didn’t you? You probably even knew that you could buy 3D printers at STAPLES as well (http://www.staples.com/Cube-3D-Printer-Silver/product_201876) however, have you given much thought as to what exactly you’d use it for? I’ve given it some thought and this is what I’ve devised; new tennis sneakers, an ergonomic keyboard custom tailored for my larger than normal fingers, or maybe a gun? Wait? Did I say a gun? That’s not possible or is it? (NOTE: For the record, I did not think of a gun.)
According to this CNN article, a nonprofit group based out of Texas (go figure, Texas) has designed, developed and printed a functional gun with a 3D printer. Not the Staples 3D printer mentioned above but a 3D printer none the less. Not only that but they’ve posted online instructions on how to create the gun and a video displaying the functionality of their gun design. It’s pretty startling. I never would have thought of “printing a gun” but here it is.
This is pretty disturbing in my opinion. On the one hand this can be potentially very dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands such as the incident a few weeks back during the Boston marathon. On the other hand it is interesting how people’s minds work and how they envision and use technology. I don’t think I would have ever come up with an idea such as printing a gun with a 3D printer.
Once I get over the initial shock, my technical side comes out and I immediately start wondering how this can be regulated. Can we monitor, track or possibly alert authorities if and when something of this nature is printed? Perhaps we can restrict the print driver from printing these types of devices? Sounds almost science fiction but if you can print something of this magnitude, shouldn’t there be some sort of regulatory restrictions placed into effect?
Ultimately it’s true what they say “with the answer of one question comes more questions” and thus we continue to learn, innovate and evolve.