Can 3D printing lift people out of poverty? UK team is working on it

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.
Wed, 2016-03-09 14:57 -- Compassionate C...

What do you get when you put a university-level 3D printing expert together with a charity that champions what it calls technology justice?  In the case of UK-based Practical Action, an international development charity, and Dr. Timothy Whitehead of De Montfort University Leicester, you get a plan to develop what they consider the enormous potential of 3D printing to help lift some of the world's poorest people out of poverty.

Consider Lima, Peru, where they are already at work. Lima, a press release notes, has pockets of poverty and also has people living under the threat of landslid es triggered by heavy rain. Whitehead created a 3D topographical map of the city's areas of poverty that revealed in detail the very real threat landslides pose.

“We were then able to use this to explain, across a language barrier, to people living there why we needed to make changes, to have safety measures put in place," Whitehead said. Traditional manufacturing, he added, is limited, but 3D printing allows more creativity.

What's next
Whitehead, according to the release, has also tested print components for water purification systems and weather sensing equipment which also have the potential to increase survival rates in Lima.

Practical Action plans to work with Whitehead on applications of 3D printing that could be used in other countries too.

"We’re really excited to be collaborating with De Montfort University. 3D printing could be a disruptive technology, leap-frogging traditional design and manufacturing processes," said Practical Action Chief Executive Paul Smith Lomas." It could mean that people in developing countries are able to access new products faster and cheaper than they would in the past, making their lives better."


This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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