Though it finds most of its use in the business world, 3D printing and philanthropic causes go hand in hand around the world. The same characteristics that make 3D printing transformative in manufacturing also make it extremely useful in furthering charitable initiatives. Here are a few of the ways 3D printing technology is helping the less fortunate achieve better standards of living.
Giving Amputees New Hands
One of the most publicized charitable uses of 3D printing has been the printing of prosthetic hands for amputees and those with severe birth defects. Prosthetic hands made with 3D printers cost a fraction of those made with more traditional manufacturing methods. 3D printers in some cases can print hands for as little as $20. Through a network of 3D printing enthusiasts called Enabling the Future, the printing of these hands is crowdsourced globally. Patients all over the world can now get the prosthetics they need to improve their quality of life.
Speeding Economic Development in the Third World
Helping people in the underdeveloped world to lift themselves out of poverty has historically been an extremely challenging problem. Without manufacturing infrastructure, jobs are scarce, and entrepreneurs often struggle to acquire enough capital to start up new enterprises. 3D printing’s ability to decentralize manufacturing is beginning to solve at least some of these problems. Many people now believe that 3D printing could support entrepreneurship in Africa, where development has notably difficult. In India, a social entrepreneurship startup improved the lives and wages of waste pickers by recycling 3D-printable plastics into filament.
Providing Cost-effective Solutions for Homelessness
3D printing of cost-effective shelters for the homeless is another charitable cause in its early stages. A firm called Framlab has proposed 3D printing hexagonal pods that can be easily stacked in the small spaces available in major urban areas. These pods act as temporary housing for the homeless when furnished with basic necessities. Though the project is only a proposal at the moment, 3D printing has proven to be effective in significantly reducing the cost of constructing houses, making it potentially viable for providing low-cost shelter to the less fortunate.
These are just a few of the ways in which 3D printing and philanthropic causes are making a way into the world. As you can see, this technology has the potential to not only transform businesses but also solve massive social dilemmas. Visit our website to learn about the many different uses of 3D printing.