Who should use 3D printer?
by Juicy on February 10, 2017 - 7:08pm
3D printers enable synthesizing three-dimensional solids by building up the object layer by layer using computer aided design. Futurologist Jeremy Rifkin suggested that the emergence of 3D printing leads to the beginning of a third industrial revolution(Rifkin). The creation of 3D printing cuts cost and saves time successfully in the industry. However, there are several problems might be caused by the improper use of 3D printing, which includes increasing the difficulty of protecting intellectual properties and the possibility of manufacturing illegal weapons etc. I will be exploring these dilemmas from the perspective of utilitarianism, deontological and teleological ethics.
One concern about 3D printers is its emergence will threaten the Intelligence Property law. With the availability of 3D printers, people are able to manufacture items on their own. With the combination of a 3D scanner, people can scan items and print copies. It is predicted that “by 2018, 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year in IP globally” (Williams). However, the result of violating the Intelligence Property law is because of illegal use, which means that 3D printer is not the only threat. In reproductions of music, art, and other fields, there are also many cases breaking the IP law. From a utilitarian perspective, which says “maximize the good for the majority”(Merrill), 3D printers is a sign of scientific development. It promotes faster production and lower cost in the industry. In this way, the development of technology will be able to make the “good” for the majority, increasing the quality of their life.
Another concern about 3D printing is it increases the possibility of producing of illegal weapons. In 2012, the U.S.-based group Defense Distributed posted the blueprint to design a working plastic gun that could be downloaded and reproduced by anybody with a 3D printer. In this way, it is too easy to obtain an illegal weapon(Poeter). 3D printers turn the blueprint into multiple actual guns. 3D printers make it easier for the existence and spreading of illegal weapons, which could be problematic and harmful to the security of the society. However, the gun problem has existed for a long time, which emerges before the problem of 3D printing, so the problem is not brought by the 3D printer, instead 3D printing gives these crimes a greater possibility to appear. Moreover, the group claimed that their initial purpose is making the weapon easier to be obtained in order to protect people from crazy killers. From the deontological ethical theory, people should always follow the rules. But in this case, the misuse of 3D printer leads to the problem of illegal weapons, which is unethical. Although based on the group’s initial wish, which seems to be a good action. It is debatable in this case.
In conclusion, for scientific and industrial use, 3D printing can be very useful. From the perspective of teleological ethics, which focus on the “greatest good for the greatest number” (Merrill), scientists and engineers can bring out the “greatest good” to other people in a good manner. However, because of it can be debatable in deontological ethics, there should be laws and punishment to restrict the improper personal use of 3D printing.
Merrill John C. Theoretical Foundations for Media Ethics
Poeter Damon, “Could a 'Printable Gun' Change the World?”http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2408899,00.asp. Accessed10 Feb.2016
Rifkin Jeremy, “The Third Industrial Revolution”. http://www.thethirdindustrialrevolution.com/. Accessed 10 Feb. 2016
Williams Rhiannon, “3D printing human tissue and organs to 'spark ethics debate'”. The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10604035/3D-printing-human-tissue-and-organs-to-spark-ethics-debate.html. Accessed 10 Feb. 2016