Much of the discussion about 3-D printing focuses on the impact it is having (and will have) on manufacturing. The “Future Tech” column at the Nonprofit Times argues that the impact of this technology will extend far beyond manufacturing into even the nonprofit sector. The potential uses identified include:
Education working in the classroom. 3D printers will become the new “projector” for schools. Lesson plans will need to include printable materials. If you are talking about an ancient skull, you better have a 3D printout. Our favorite example: This Radio Lab story (www.radiolab.org/story/taung-child/) about the Taung child with a printable skull (www.thingiverse.com/thing:332463).
Dinosaur bones previously only available through a museum trip will become a click away and will be made more powerful when connected with great curricula that nonprofits are creating.
Cause Awareness. If you are creating awareness around a specific disease, people will expect to be able to print the virus or bacteria to help understand the root cause of the illness.
Environmental organizations should have their supporters print endangered species to gain a greater understanding of the issue.
Support in Developing Countries. 3D printing will help solve the “last mile problem” by being able to bring consistent resources to remote regions with a simple print. This is an untapped potential for organizations coordinating with field initiatives ranging from education to building water wells. Can the wells you are building in underdeveloped countries be fixed with printable parts?
Environment There are efforts underway to convert recycled materials into reusable printer filament. This work could revolutionize recycling, closing the cycle time between collection and commercial reuse. Even crazier is that the 3D printer can make a filament recycling tool (www.thingiverse.com/thing:12948).
The full story is here.