In this President's Letter, Jeff explores how the use of the emerging technology of 3D printing changed a child's future.
President, JB Homer Associates
The Multi-fold Implications of 3D Printing
The idea of a world in which technology is capable of fabricating whatever design the mind can muster, down to the most specific detail, seems inconceivable or the topic of a fantasy writer with a far-fetched imagination. More than two decades ago this idea would have been met with condescension and considered to be absurd. However, with the recent advancements in 3D printing technology, industry seems to be more open to the possibilities that this technology provides, and there is a general discussion of advancement and drawback that is of great importance to CIOs in many different business sectors.
As one example, 3D printing has allowed for major advancements in the medical industry -- from prosthetic limbs to hearing aids, this technology is not only capable of producing the surface level product, but also permits the designer to customize each product in regard to shape, size, and specification. One example of this technology's power strikes close to home in relation to its effect on the life of a friend's child who was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a rare condition that affects only one in every three thousand births, and has left him without the ability to lift his own arms unless special equipment is used. Through the use of 3D printing an exoskeleton has been produced that grants this child mobility in his arms and a chance at a life he would not have been able to live before.
However, with the advent of any notable progression in 3D printing it is important to assess its possible liabilities, including the examination of issues that this technology may create for the security of sensitive information stored within the digital files that are used to produce the desired product to begin with. If production is kept within an enterprise there may be an issue of bandwidth being drained making file retrieval difficult, and if the production is outsourced the enterprise will have to deal with the transfer of incredibly large files, which leaves room for error and the loss of intellectual property via a data breach.
It is also important to keep in mind that although there are many current accounts of the marvels that 3D printing has brought upon us it is still in developmental stages and is not standardized. There are many hurdles that need to be overcome before it can be considered the fully functional creator that it is intended to be and a CIO would have to undergo the challenge of integrating a form of technology that at the moment is largely incompatible with many legacy systems.
So in the end are the optimistic aspirations for 3D printing worth the stumbling blocks that come along with it? Is the adoption of 3D printing even a choice or is it an inevitable jump that must be made? How will 3D printing be utilized, and as with any technology advancement what will the consequences be?