The corals were created with 3D printing in the wild, and have a whole range of features that provide benefits to both humans and the sea. The corals weren’t engineered to be fish-like or even sea urchins: they’re fish-like, with an impressive array of muscles, a spiny foot, and a tongue that acts like a mouth.
How do these new, genetically engineered fish fit within the larger world? At the rate of coral dying each year - which seems inevitable - we’re going to run out of coral and are moving on to the next step - to make new corals. And, while we’re on the subject of new corals… 3D-printed corals could potentially be used to build a new “sea forest,” a “sea grass” called the chytrid fungus, and a variety of fish and other aquatic organisms.
3D printing has made it easier for people to customize their items. And this trend of 3D printing is only accelerating. It isn’t just 3D printing or fashion: a significant portion of our items are “printable,” which basically means they can be made by computers and 3D printers. This trend has started, and it’s already having some interesting effects on the environment. 3D printing and the printing of many items can be more environmentally friendly than the traditional mass-production of paper and cardboard. When 3D printers arrive at your door, they’re made by using less water. This is great, and the use of a third party to print your furniture or appliances is more efficient. But here’s where it gets tricky:
Water. It’s very common for things like furniture or appliances to be printed using the 3D printing systems that exist today. All of these are fairly new, not to mention difficult to manufacture and ship, let alone get to market. If you’re not living in a city, you definitely aren’t going to be able to afford a 3D printer. However, if you’re in one, you’re going to want to be able to print things like furniture. So, let’s say I’m in Seattle and I want to print a couple of new stuff for my house. I order a CNC file from Shapeways and send it off to their printers. When they’re done printing, they’ll ship it back to me. In return, they’ll send it back through a FedEx delivery company, where I can pick it up. How exactly are these things shipped? The basic problem: no shipping company is making long-distance shipping that big business. The other problem: people don’t like to pay a lot for a thing. These are complicated problems, and they’re almost impossible to solve. However, 3D printing and other forms of mass-production have made these problems relatively easy to solve: less shipping, less time, less investment. This means that in the near future, the things you’ll buy will go directly from our factories to your doorstep in one easy step: just print them yourself or order them from an online shop, you’ll have it delivered to your door.
3D printing in action - here’s a guy who printed out a new, custom-made chair! He built a printer from a part he found in the shop he went to go to (see above picture), which took a little over a day to print. It looks a little funny as it’s assembled, but then again, it worked, and he’s proud of himself!
This image shows a couple of 3D-printed items that would be impossible to ship using regular shipping. The 2nd one is a printed car seat - you just need to make one. And the 3rd is a new, 3D-printed bookcase. You can design it, and just print it on a 3D printer!
(And that’s not all: the 3d printing of books is also pretty awesome, providing a platform for writing fiction that doesn’t need to be printed to a hard copy or even printed to a computer like old books used to be. This has helped writers to get their ideas out there much faster than ever before. Most 3D printing software allows authoring your own books, allowing you to easily make up what you want to use, and have it put into physical form with enough security that if your printer overheats, you can still make a copy of your work. That’s pretty cool.)
Another cool thing about 3D printing is how rapidly it is becoming a real threat to the traditional industry in the creation and distribution of all of us’ goods and services. In a typical year, it accounts for at least 3% of all retail stores. However, there are still places that would still have problems with 3D