Public policy group highlights social potential of 3D printing 10/31/2011
According to a recently released report from Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Atlantic Council, 3D printing technology may play an important role in solving several problems associated with global population growth.
Often viewed as an industrial utility or fun design tool, experts now believe the innovative technology underlying the 3D printer could have political consequences. Within the Atlantic Council's October 2011 Strategic Foresight Report, analysts revealed the unique potential of additive manufacturing processes.
Report authors suggested that 3D printing can help facilitate the transition to more sustainable practices which will be needed in the coming decades. Manufacturers using 3D printing may be able to reduce material waste, limit energy consumption, eliminate the need for potential dangerous chemical processes and curb carbon emissions with more efficient production and shorter supply chains.
In the short-term future, Atlantic Council analysts believe 3D printing and additive manufacturing could transition from an emerging technology to a "truly transformative technology." But although the future looks bright, analysts cautioned that the industry may have to answer a number of challenges including questions surrounding the health and safety impact of nanomaterials.'