In the past year alone, there has been a momentous movement towards using 3D printers in communities that are developing. The idea is that these computers can be become technologically self-sufficient, and create their own economic boom. Not only does the community become self-sufficient in terms of manufacturing, but they are also self-sufficient in the design. Rather, the community dictates exactly what it is that is necessary, and they can make it, and sell it themselves.
Nonprofit organizations such as Field Ready have already implemented 3D printers in underdeveloped economics. In Haiti, Field Ready is developing 3D printing for birthing kits, including umbilical clamps, and small agricultural tools. In an interview with Motherboard, Field Ready’s Dara Dotz said, “We're working on printing simple things like oxygen splitters for oxygen tanks, which link the tank to the patient. Small clinics just can't get [these] medical products and equipment, which bigger hospitals can buy in bulk at a discount. You can also wait six months to three years to get your equipment, and then there can be a lot of corruption with that aswell”.
Accessibility will factor in as a major problem for 3D printing. Most communities that would benefit most from this solution, are not easily reached, and therefore the printers are not easily distributed. Difficult infrastructure will pose a problem. Additionally, lack of Internet, or a poor Internet connection will also serve as a disruption.
Joshua Pearce has created the first mobile and solar-powered 3D printer. Additionally, he has uploaded to his website a list of products that can be printed, a range of objects that includes medical products like breast pumps, to educational toys and corn shellers.
Luckily, solutions for those criticisms have been met. Joshua Pearce has created the first mobile and solar-powered 3D printer. Additionally, he has uploaded to his website a list of products that can be printed, a range of objects that includes medical products like breast pumps, to educational toys and corn shellers.
Field Ready and Pearce are utilizing free and open-source technology, so that anyone can download the design from anywhere, and improve it, for free. In the same interview with Motherboard, Pearce said, “The goal of open sourcing [the printers] is to ensure that others can easily build upon the designs so the technology continues to evolve rapidly and versions are commercialized by many businesses to enable the widest possible deployment. Our own lab is already working on a better design based off our version of the Delta RepRap.” The RepRap printer is self replicating, which means that those printers have the ability to recreate and manufacture a 3D printer. Dotz is hoping to bring a sense of independence to this communities, that for so long have been dependent on these products despite corruption and subsidies that never arrive. “We're also hoping to facilitate and train people in 3D printing, but also in how to become designers”, she said.
The RepRap printer is self replicating, which means that those printers have the ability to recreate and manufacture a 3D printer. Dotz is hoping to bring a sense of independence to this communities, that for so long have been dependent on these products despite corruption and subsidies that never arrive.
Eventually, all parties are hoping that smalllocal businesses and nonprofit organizations and nongovernmental organizations will begin to build and sell these 3D printers. Once the individual community has necessity’s such as water collectors and IV bag hookups, the hope is that they will then shift their focus to other more creative demands that will improve the local market economy.
The other problem presented was the printer filament. The Ethical Filament Foundation has prepared an interesting solution for that as well. They are developing the tools necessary so as to allow each community to make their own filament from their plastic waste. The first “ethical filament” will be available at the end of year in India and Mexico. Not only does this reduce the cost that would have originally gone to the NP or NGO leasing the printer, but it also guarantees fair trade printing materials, as well as solve a massive pollution issue.