3D DON’Ts (480)

by Maja Ramirez

The breathless endorsements of 3-D printing make old methods sound stupid and outdated, as if they deserve to be on their way out. But why should a chess piece, or a mug, come from pressing a computer key?

The proponents enthuse that when steam engines came along, power costs plummeted. Neither did animals have to be employed for the many mechanical labors.  They don’t seen to know their history, then, or care, that there were water and wind mills that ground grain, coal was king because it was cheaper than dirt, and Ford convinced people to forswear their horses (and mass transit) so everyone could ride alone with their infernal combustion engines.

Some of us can foresee a huge problem just with gun parts, and entire gun was recently constructed (it malfunctioned, but how long before they will be brought aboard trains and buses and planes?).  Why are the 3D print crews not more concerned about this?  I have been in law enforcement for thirty-plus years, and I am horrified at this lackadaisical attitude, which seems to be: Oh, well, plastic handcuff keys and guns parts? 

Here at the crime scene today, the evidence gone off and melted tomorrow, so what?  
It’s great that someone thinks to make a new bill for an eagle.  Less so are yet more plastic lemon juicers and octopi with top hats. Of this proliferation of mundane products 3D fans seem to have no quibble, despite the fact that almost nothing of plastic will break down at the end of its life – or ours.  Where is anyone wondering why all 3-D applications can’t be useful, even if legislation had to force it to be so?  Where is the brave soul who will say, We should not be using this at all until the waste problem can be mitigated? They might merely mention in passing the chemical reactions necessary — never offering solutions or to clean things up themselves, because lo, they are the creators!

No, the aftermath is at best an afterthought: there is no mention anywhere of how long it will take any of these shiny new plastic pieces to break down, and what harm they will wreak in the environment as they do.  As with nuclear power, another damn genie’s out of the bottle again while we were, shucks, jus’ looking at all the purty colors.
Breathless 3-D printing articles should be subtitled: humans dream up another way to pollute, and needlessly complicate matters. 

After a few months’ practice, my daughter, then 11, could make lovely clay dishes and mugs, with unique glazing at that.  Working at the wheel built her upper body strength, gave her a feeling of satisfaction as she mastered this ancient technique, and afforded her a mental break from her many studies – all while doing something useful — things pressing a button on any printer will never do.


About majaramirez

former assistant instructor in tai chi chu'an; current TreeKeeper (#467); former Master Gardener; member of American Bird Conservancy, Audubon, Fraternal Order of Police, and Mensa; recently retired career cop; wife and mom.
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