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The Advance of 3D Printing

The use of 3D printing in disaster zones is transforming the way communities can be helped to rebuild after a crisis.

Using the latest technology, we are now able to build replacement parts to mend leaking pipes, incubators and medical equipment. They are already being printed by the non profit organisation Field Ready in Nepal, following last years’ earthquakes.

The technology is always improving as well, and the potentials are endless. Soon we will be expected to print emergency shelters to lifejackets. This could easily change the way the world copes with disasters.

There are quite significant problems with the supply chain after a major disaster – logistical problems of getting supplies into a country,” said Andrew Lamb, Field Ready innovation adviser.

Being able to take the means of production to the place where supplies are needed gives you the versatility to make whatever is needed in the field.”

Field Ready has already started working with the children’s charity World Vision in Kathmandu to set up an ‘innovation lab’ to take on design challenges in order to help in the relief effort.

The efforts include putting together a digital catalogue of 3D printable parts for use in humanitarian aid available for every to get easy access too.

The Advance of 3D Printing

The main thing we want to be able to do in Nepal is deliver more training to the local people who have incredibly high skill sets so they would be able to use the machines we have been able to deploy,” said Mr Lamb.

3D printing is now part of the everyday life of students at the University of Hertfordshire. One student has been using this technology to print chain main for fashion designs, another used it to design a modular relief shelter that can be produced entirely on a 3D printer from plastic, bamboo and coconut fibre.

It is said that people could definitely see the use of 3D printing in disaster zones as you are able to get the clothes straight away in the location that you need it, as opposed to waiting for something to be manufactured overseas and sent out. It can be done there and then and it can be done in a bulk way or on a singular scale. It will save so much time and effort and in the long run it could save the lifes of those who are effected by these such disasters.

The aim is to soon be able to print off waterproof jackets and shoes for those effected by the crisis, but this is still a long way off. It is not impossible and we are getting closer and closer every day.

For now we just need to work on faster printing times, cheaper materials and a more materials that can be used in the printing process.

For now, we can use nylon, metals, rubbers, ceramics and glass, but the technology is vastly improving and soon you will see a much wider application of printing.

A long way in the future, we plan to be able to make repairable body armour and also with medical drugs to be able to provide slow release pain relief to an injured part of the body.

I say it all the time, but I feel like I need to say it again, technology is taking over the world one day at a time.

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