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10 Ways 3D Printing Can Help Underdeveloped Countries

10 Ways 3D Printing Can Help Underdeveloped Countries

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3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital model, usually by laying down many thin layers of material. A computer-aided design file is sent to the 3D printer which then prints out that object one layer at a time. This allows people to build complex shapes easily, replacing the need for molds and dies–devices that are impossible to make without highly advanced techniques.

3D printing is, however, not just a prototyping tool. It can also be used for more “mundane” things–by helping to solve real-world problems in regions that lack infrastructure. Here are ten ways 3D printing can help underdeveloped countries.

1. Clean Drinking Water

Till today, the lack of access to clean drinking water is still one of the biggest crisis faced in many underdeveloped countries. Roughly 784 million people – 1 in 10 people on earth – live without basic access to clean water.

3D printing can be used to make water filters from locally available materials for a fraction of the cost. The design requires a plastic bottle and a tape-based filter that catches all types of solids including human hair and other contaminants. Depending on where it is made and how it is used, a water filter like this can give someone as much as four years of clean drinking water.

2. Water Pumps

Water pumps for wells can be built with a 3D printer and several parts printed by local workshops. This would ensure that clean, freshwater could continue to be drawn from the ground even during times of drought. It also demonstrates to the community what can be achieved when everyone works together–it is not just those people employed as technicians or engineers that can benefit from 3D printing.

10 Ways 3D Printing Can Help Underdeveloped Countries

3. Healthcare

Healthcare is another vital service that every under-developed region needs, almost as much as food and clean drinking water. 3D printing can be used to build things like hearing aids, dental implants, orthopedic devices–even full prosthetic limbs. Measured prosthetics can be modelled and printed at significantly lower costs, rapidly and regularly. This would help with the high rate of birth defects or other problems that might be caused by a lack of regular healthcare services in an area.

4. Homes

It goes without saying that another huge problem in many underdeveloped countries is the lack of housing. 3D printing has a great potential to be widely adopted as a quick alternative to build temporary homes for families who have lost their homes due to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or war. Additionally, when the crisis has passed, these houses could easily be removed and reused elsewhere in some other part of the country.

5. Weather Stations

Weather forecasting is an important part of being able to plan for farming or other outdoor activities that are necessary for underdeveloped nations. 3D printers could be used to build inexpensive weather stations, allowing the local people to monitor conditions and prepare accordingly–suggesting they plant different crops to help ensure their survival during difficult times. It could also be used to track and predict storms which could greatly reduce the loss of life and property.

6. Farming Equipment

Similar to weather forecasting, farming equipment can also help an underdeveloped nation survive when times are difficult. Tractor components or other parts in short supply could be printed. This would allow farmers to continue their operations even when they cannot afford to buy new equipment.

7. Livestock

3D printers could also be used to build incubators for livestock, which are often the only source of food during times of drought or famine. This would ensure that farmers can continue to provide for themselves and their families–even when they do not have any extra income with which to buy new animals.

8. Transportation

Transportation also needs to be an immediate priority for any underdeveloped nation if it is to develop beyond the subsistence level. Bicycles are fairly easy to produce using a 3D printer in a region where parts might be scarce and the need to travel great distances with heavy loads is very real. In some African countries, motorcycles are often used for transportation because they can maneuver through the wide variety of terrain that exists–3D printers could be used in a similar fashion except on a much smaller scale.

9. Education

Education is probably the most important investment a country can make. Without it, there is no hope for any form of development and progress. 3D printed parts, which can be cheaply made, can be used to teach students. A visual learning environment will improve their understanding of the world. By being able to touch and see their projects, students will be able explore and grow their imaginations, overall cultivating innovation.

10. Plastic Waste

There are a number of other uses for 3D printers in underdeveloped communities, one of which is recycling plastic waste to be used as filament. Excess plastic can often be found lying around many parts of the world and rather than being discarded, it could be melted down and fed into a 3D printer–this would immediately solve two problems with one action.

There are so many other things that could be built with a 3D printer and even more applications when the work is done collectively. A well-thought CAD design and a supply of dependable, high-quality parts, would go a long way to helping people living in poverty. 3D printing enables the provision of supplies rapidly and regularly in an economical manner. With these 3D printed parts, locals will also be able to provide for themselves in the long-term.

Want to further understand the capabilities of 3D printing or ready to start your project?

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