The University of Idaho continues to stay up-to-date with technology by having not one, but two 3D printers on campus for students to gain experience with.
The Technical Design Studio in the Department of Art and Architecture has a 3D printer that prints a plaster material, and the Mechanical Engineering Department has a 3D printer that prints ABS plastic material. Students in these departments can use this equipment to get experience with how the technology and the software work that goes along with it.
This technology is relatively new, but it is becoming more readily available to individuals as small machines and materials are becoming cheaper. 3D printers that will print objects up to 6 cubic inches can be found pre-assembled and ready to print for as low as $500. Earlier models can be found in kits that can take weeks to build and be ready to print. Larger machines that can print in metal and plastic mediums are more expensive and found more commonly at universities and companies that have money for these things.
President Barack Obama’s recent talk about gun control laws have brought up the idea of printing guns with 3D printers. There have been many attempts to print full guns with these printers, but they have failed to work properly. More commonly, people have been able to create pieces of a gun, such as the magazine clip, that have been successfully used to fire a gun.
People used to worry about criminals owning guns, but now they have another thing to worry about – 3D printers. Before, computers and 2D printers made counterfeit money easier to produce, which hurt the economy. Now 3D printers have the ability to hurt bodies, which worries the public. So far there are no federal laws limiting what these printers can make.
Jay Pengilly, director of the Technical Design Studio, said that people are making these gun parts and trying to make full guns just to say that they can. With the gun control debates, people are just making the point that it is possible to do it. With or without 3D printers, if someone wanted to make a weapon, they would find a way to do it — they have been for years.
Like computers in their early stages, 3D printers are still a new technology that has potential to do good and bad. Many people wonder what the future holds for this new technology and encourage its development.
Kaitlyn Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org