We work with AutoDesk and Instructables, so we’ve been watching the 3D printing revolution from the beginning. One of the most fascinating aspects of the new technology is how it might be utilized in the future. Speculation ranges from the simple to the extreme scifi, with the latter bringing forth warning of both progress for humankind and the potential onset of a dystopian future. The work of geneticist Craig Venter falls firmly into the first category – research into the possible emailing and 3D printing of vaccinations.
If you follow science and medical advancements, you probably know that our process of producing and distributing vaccinations uses mostly 20th – and even some 19th – century technology. Production and distribution of the fragile substances is problematic and expensive. If 3D printing of vaccinations ever panned out, governments and health professionals could rapidly deploy a “printing facility” to an area where an outbreak is occurring, allowing vaccination of the affected population before the disease spread out of control. Of course, emailing and printing a genetic substance that would require a very specific molecular build is a little more complicated than sending a Homer Simpson chess piece from our office in Los Angeles to my friend in New York, so it will likely be some time before 3D printed vaccines are feasible. Still, it just goes to show how technology can change the world. The person who built the first 3D printer probably didn’t foresee a day when medicines could be dispersed via their tech, but with a little imagination, research and hard work that may be just what happens.