Qualifying Problem - 3D Printing

3D printing is an emerging technology that was first used in arts and hobbies. Because of its widespread applications, 3D printing is now being used in business, medicine, and industry. In biochemistry, engineers create 3D printed body parts. NASA has a 3D printer on the International Space Station. The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking into the feasibility of building a base on the moon using 3D printing. 3D printers are already inexpensive enough to use at home and universal enough for schools to include them as part of their technology or “maker” programs. The technology continues to develop at a fast pace and many breakthroughs are on the horizon. Experts predict there will be improvements to printing speed and quality and that 3D printed food and 3D bioprinting will soon be the norm.

What are the implications for global industries when people might be able to print anything they need at home? What are the implications for intellectual property rights when people are able to download patterns for whatever they want to print, whether it is physical, food, or biological? What if people can print their own weapons or vehicles? How might 3D printing evolve - 4D printing? Nanotechnology?

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