High-impact developments in the field of 3D Printing: Saving the Great Barrier Reef and Trump's wall
3D printing is making waves in a number of areas, in this series we delve into the most colourful new developments in the world of 3D printing; first exploring its application in a current political and architectural conundrum and its ability to restore one of the world’s most striking natural treasures.
President Trump’s wall
Trump’s wall, which he has stated he will build on the US-Mexico border, has understandably attracted a wave of criticism; blasted by many as impractical, costly, undiplomatic and useless - in terms of cutting down on crime, supposedly originating from Mexico. In addition, there’s been much discussion about how Trump’s wall will be constructed (and by whom). The latest reports state that Trump’s wall will likely be printed using 3D printers. The Engineer reports:
“Under the proposals, announced in detail at the North American Annual Symposium for Construction (NAASC), fleets of hundreds of autonomous 3D printing robots will build the 20 metre-high, 1000 mile long wall in-situ, at an expected rate of around 10 metres per day.
Featuring specially developed multi-material printing heads, the robots – jointly developed by a US/Russian consortium – are able to simultaneously deposit liquid concrete as well as the wall’s metallic supporting structures (expected to made from a gold alloy).
The systems will use solar panels to harvest energy from the sun providing enough electricity to fuel them throughout the day and to charge batteries to enable 24-hour operation. It’s envisaged that the devices will serviced by autonomous flying drones that will deliver the feedstock for the 3D printing systems.
Once construction of the site is complete the devices will be equipped with motion sensors and machine guns and repurposed as border guards.”
Some critics argue that such technology does not yet exist - fully-automated, weapon-wielding, 3D wall-printing robots do seem like something out of a Sci-Fi film,but we are yet to see if the infamous wall will materialise and if Trump and his administration will utilise 3D printing technology to complete it.
Helping to save the Great Barrier Reef
In other advancements, researchers at the University of Sydney are using 3D printing to create “coral prosthetics,” in order to save the beautiful Great Barrier Reef. Large sectors of the reef are currently suffering damage due to overheating, caused by global warming (evidence that it’s not just a hoax, as some might have you believe), until now there was little that scientists could do to help rectify the mass damage caused by human activity.
The hostile conditions of the reef have led to extensive coral bleaching - involving the loss of endosymbiotic algae from the coral. As a result, the once gorgeous technicoloured reef has become grey and dull, losing it’s magic and lustre and threatening the wildlife that lives there.
Dr. Renate Ferrari and Will Figueira, from the University of Sydney, are employing virtual 3D modelling and 3D printing to assess to create 3D-printed replicas of the reef’s coral, which will help support and protect the reef and its diverse wildlife. Their technology helps to accurately map the areas of the reef that is most adversely affected, so that they can employ their technology where it is most needed. The 3D printed coral reefs are being developed using material from the reef’s themselves - effectively recreating the reef.
Colourful developments in a variety of fields
3D printing is providing the catalyst for many developments around the world; what’s most fascinating about the technology is that it is being used to create waves in a variety of areas - including the world of politics, architecture, and nature and wildlife.