3D Printing

Of the many technological advancements in the digital humanities, few have greater capabilities and applications than 3D printing. 3D printing is the process of turning a digital model on the computer into a physical three-dimension item. These items can be built in a variety of materials ranging from metals, plastics, and even synthetic human body parts infused with real human cells. This technological advancement could be used to build cars, homes, other large scale items faster and cheaper than ever before. But the implications only just begin there.
3D printing in context of the classics. Something that is often discussed in digital humanities is classical studies. Many of the technologies that have been introduced the last several years have revolutionized how classical buildings, items, and entire civilizations have been recorded. Before this modern technology, much of the recording process was extremely manual. Drawing, writing, non-digital photography. In recent years, software has been developed that allows historians to create digital models of the items and even buildings they are surveying. These 3D images were revolutionary and allow these structures to be recorded in ways they never had before. This is where the 3D printer comes into play. With 3D printers we can now put these 3D images into physical models to the exact parameters of the structure. Not only can we create these models, we can create them to whatever scale we wish. This can be done incredibly quickly now, and to higher degrees of accuracy than even before.
There are infinite medical applications of 3D printing technology. We’ve already begun printing prosthetic limbs for people that fit better and function better than ever. In addition to this, these prosthetics can be printed so cheap and quickly that they are making high quality prosthetics accessible to more people than ever. Scientist have even begun printing synthetic material infused with human cells. This medical application could be absolutely groundbreaking. There are major problems with transplantation in medicine. It can be extremely difficult to find a transplant donor, and even if you manage to find one and get to the top of the list there still is the chance that your body could reject it. 3D printed body parts/organs (kidneys,ears,eyes,etc) are fused with cells from your body. This greatly increases the likelihood of your body accepting the part. This could save so many lives, while simultaneously making healthcare far more affordable.
The current applications of the 3D printing process are amazing, and the capabilities are endless. What I truly love about 3D printing is “If there is a will, there is a way.” Anything and everything imaginable is achievable. If you wanted to 3D print a scale model replica of the Colosseum in rainbow colored plastic, you could literally print it out. It would take a long time perhaps, but it can be printed and made more quickly than ever. The technology continues to advance at a seemly exponential rate. I am so excited to see what 3D printing technology will bring our world in the coming years.

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