Rapid prototyping has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people in developing countries in a number of capacities. Poverty stricken people all over the world are lacking in clean water, food and housing, entrepreneurial opportunities, and proper healthcare. It is possible to help eradicate poverty with the development & proliferation of 3D printing.
One of the greatest dangers to people in many developing countries is the lack of clean water and sanitation. Millions of people do not have access to a clean shower everyday, which many people in developed countries take for granted. Poor water quality and lack of water deposits kills thousands of children each year. With the help of 3D printers, communities can build toilets to improve sanitation conditions, and communities can build water receptacles to capture and store fresh rainwater. Another application being used to provide clean water is through 3D printed water filters that remove bacteria and viruses from water supplies. These applications alone can save the lives of millions of people in the future.
Many small businesses in developing countries are severely lacking for access to parts and global supply chains. Most manufacturing companies will only run parts for mass distribution. Today, smaller rapid prototyping companies can provide affordable alternatives on a much smaller scale. In the past, these entrepreneurs did not have access to such parts to create products and services desired and necessary in their regions. The lower costs of 3D printing services and manufacturing alternatives are providing life-changing opportunities for entrepreneurs in all corners of the earth. Rapid prototyping companies are helping entrepreneurs on a large scale the world over. Entrepreneurs and 3D printers are able to build better and longer-lasting products for products such as boats, shoes, vaccinations, and much more.
Lack of materials for houses and poor farming conditions also contribute to dire poverty circumstances in a number of developing countries. In many instances, such as the living conditions in city slums, can create an environment of disease and crime. The materials that typically cost far too much money to import, will be able to be made available to the masses at a much more affordable level and vastly improve safety and living conditions. Also, many of the farming issues, including floods and droughts or poor soil, can also be prevented with the help of food 3D printers by being able to locally produce nutritious and affordable food for everyone without relying upon imports or favorable climate and weather conditions.
Another way rapid prototyping is saving lives in developing countries is through medical advancement. Many of these nations cannot afford to buy medications, equipment, or even items such as prosthetics that individuals often take for granted in developed nations. A 3D printer can mean the difference between life and death in many instances in many countries. These medical applications are saving lives and providing surgical opportunities that have been lacking in years’ past. It is also possible to create better laboratory facilities and to generate medications and vaccinations on-site rather than to rely upon aid to be delivered, which is often stolen in the transportation process. The medical care that is being offered with the assistance of these printers is giving hope and a future to generations that have been left behind for decades.
While the potential to change the world with rapid prototyping is substantial, the industry development is not without challenges. These printers are still too expensive for people in these countries to afford; therefore, most people depend upon donations. The issue with these donations is that they often do not provide long-term support, training or additional parts to maintain and repair these machines when problems arise. Individuals at a local level must be trained in repairs, CAD and engineering to create new applications and machine maintenance. It is simply not feasible to ship machines out for repairs, and the necessary education is not available in many countries at this time. Also, material diversification is still limited, as well as existing applications. In time, this will change. For now, these are still areas for concern. And, developing countries do not yet have regulations in place which can make for potentially dangerous situations in the medical field.
While several challenges still exist, solutions and advancements in 3D printing are occurring daily that will only continue to help developing countries and to eradicate poverty and a poor quality of life for millions of people. With proper education and training and less expensive printers, rapid prototyping will help change the world.
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