|In 1822, Charles Babbage wrote about a plan to print mathematical tables using a machine. Yet not until 1979, 157 years later, did Epson's competitively priced printer hit homes, establishing a market for such trinkets. The burgeoning realm of computer printers was launched. Today, mass-produced printers flourish, present in nearly every North American home, owing to a visionary mathematician.|
In 1984, Charles Hull invented stereo-lithography: the ability to print tangible 3D objects. By 2002, scientists had engineered a functioning kidney, demonstrating the idea of printable organs. In 2008, the first printer capable of printing most of its own parts was created. The year 2012 saw the first 3D-printed prosthetic implant. Printing 3D objects is a technology poised to bloom.
In 1901, Ransom Olds invented the modern assembly line, ushering an era of mass production. His idea allowed manufacturers to make everything from horseless carriages to automatic weapons on an unprecedented scale, but not with free rein. Factory owners, distributors, and stores must abide by certain regulations, including strict gun controls. In a world of mass-produced, manufactured goods, drafting laws that restrict who can buy or produce guns makes sense.
Hardly will it take 157 years for 3D printers to go from hobbyist tinker-toy to standard home appliance. The technology is advancing faster than a speeding bullet. A decade hence will dawn the age of 3D printers, wounding the mass production industry and killing certain government controls.
Once people can print plastic cups and assorted nicknacks from their couch, the proliferation of untraceable guns could be... explosive.