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Fears about the Future use of 3D Printing

With all the technological advances being made in the field of 3D printing it brings with it a new world of possibilities. However in addition to the positive uses of 3D printing some people are worried about 3D printing being used in ways we may not be so pleased about. The main fear lies in the use of 3D printing to easily and economically create dangerous products. In addition the question arises of whether the introduction of 3D printing will put people out of work; lower the quality of products; have a detrimental effect on the environment or reduce the scope of creativity to just plastic objects.

The Main Concerns of Unethical use of 3D Printing

3D Printed Guns

The first 3D printed gun, the Liberator, was fired in 2013 and as yet it has not become an overwhelming success or taken over the hand gun market. 3D printed guns would be untraceable and plastic guns could not be detected by security scanners. 3D printed guns are just one of the dangers that we are facing in the modern technological world and like other potentially dangerous technologies there will always be a potential threat. As yet the 3D printed gun is not likely to replace conventional guns but new legislation needs to be formulated to prevent it ever getting out of hand.

Skeleton Keys

A 3D printed skeleton key has been created which can open any ABUS E20/E30 6-pin tumbler lock. The duo of engineers responsible for this invention developed the software Photobump. This program can create a 3D file for a skeleton key with just a photo of the lock and basic information. The concern is whether this will compromise security of homes, banks and even government institutions. As yet the software is not on the market but there is always the possibility that it or similar programs will fall into criminal hands. 

3D Printed Drugs

In an ideal world 3D printing could be used in pharmacies or doctors' offices to create tailor-made pills for patients according to their specific requirements. The pharmacist would receive the prescription, input the required quantities of each element of the pill to his 3D printer and print up the pills that the patient needs on the spot. However this technology could also be used to create designer street drugs and combinations of dangerous chemical drugs for sale on the streets. 


In the same way as we faced a fear of copyright infringement when MP3 players and the Internet immerged people are now fearing that creative copyrights will be abused with 3D printing. A unique designer garment could be reproduced at low cost or Manga figures could be mass produced by copycats. However we mustn't forget that like big name brands such as Prada, Gucci and Armani the counterfeit is never as good as the original and never effects the reputation of the brand. 

All technology can be used for good and for bad, for ethical or unethical purposes it does not mean that the technology should be abandoned but simply that it should be closely monitored, laws created for its protection and the focus put on the overwhelming positive uses of 3D printing.

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