I remember a couple of years ago saying something dumb along the lines of “I guess 3D printing is cool in theory, but outside of printing custom miniatures for your D&D game, I don’t really see the applications.” Oh past me, how little you knew.
We’ve talked about 3D printing before on this blog. How can we forget the microgravity espresso cup and the wrench that was emailed to space? But that’s nothing. This week I want to talk about two stories of 3D printing technology that make those things look like toys for children.
Seriously, I’m not even sure what to say about this. I mean, I keep expecting someone to tell me this is a hoax. Printing a bridge? A real bridge that people can walk on? And they’re not even printing it in a factory somewhere and trucking it to the location: the robots will build it on site, automatically. All the people are going to do is set them up and hit the go button.
Consider, for a moment, how this will effect the robot apocalypse. If robots can print other robots, we’re in big trouble. So I guess the moral of this story is that you should go do something nice for you Roomba today, because you’re going to want a robot on your side when shit gets real.
But that’s just one of the amazing 3D printing stories that I have for you today. There’s more.
A San Francisco based company called Pembient is planning on 3D printing rhino horns for distribution on the Asian black market. The hope is that flooding the market with synthetic rhino horn will cause prices to crash and put the poachers out of business before they can kill off the last of the endangered rhinos.
The article I linked to above is just one of many making their way around the internet. A quick search for “3D printed Rhino Horns” finds literally dozens of articles discussing the plan and its viability. Many environmentalists are concerned that Pembient’s plan may backfire, actually driving up the prices of natural Rhino horn while simultaneously increasing the demand. There’s a lot of concern that instead of saving the endangered Rhino, they may drive it into extinction even more quickly.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I care about the fate of the rhino. I don’t want to see this majestic animal go extinct because of poaching. But could we please go back to the part where WE CAN 3D PRINT AN ORGANIC MATERIAL COMPLETE WITH DNA THAT IS ALMOST INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM THE REAL THING?!?
These articles (at least all the one’s that I’ve found) skip over the details on the 3D printing technology. They just say that Pembient can print horns out of keratin and rhino DNA.
Who the heck leaves it at that!!!! I mean, “print DNA”? That’s not a thing! Or if it is, then it’s news to me and I’d like to hear a little bit more about it please. But no, these articles all skip right over it and go on to talk about the beer with rhino horn in it that Pembient is also planning on brewing. Who cares about beer when we’re printing organic material?
I figure tomorrow I’m going to wake up and the first thing I’ll see on the internet is a story about how we’re printing food now. Wait, what was that? We already do that? Well…fine! That’s just fine! I don’t need to have a real sense of what’s possible in my world, I’m good being lost and overwhelmed! ::flail::
Okay. Deep breath. I’m good. You’re good. It’s all good. It’s just…the future, that’s all. It’s the future. Right now. So…yeah, welcome, and good luck.