I’m two months into 3D printing, I’m a relative baby compared to some of our more seasoned bloggers. In my short time I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of 3D printing in all its manifestations. Though the technology is 30-years-old now it seems I’ve joined in the final sprint finish, as the hype surrounding the tech reaches unassailable levels.
With hype comes fear, there isn’t a technology in the world that hasn’t had it’s fair share of scaremongering. Whether it is just because I’m more immersed in 3D printing than other tech or there is a genuine propagation of fear remains to be seen.
Today’s latest bout of scaremongering comes from the Honorable Maurice Williams, Customs Minister of New Zealand. During a report for Radio New Zealand he said this:
"If people could print off on printers sheets of Ecstasy tablets at the party they're at at that time, that just completely takes away our border protection role in its known sense."
He goes on to say that he’s asked his officials to get to work thinking about they can prevent this.
Far be it from me to pull up a government minister on the knowledge of drugs, especially the Minister from Customs, but how exactly does he think these technological drug pushers will be printing them off? Out of thin air? They will still need the materials, and if they’ve got the materials why would they need the printer in the first place? Surely it is the government’s role to stop people being able to get hold of the materials and not the drugs?
Mr. Williamson goes on to say “If it’s made of atoms, you’ll be able to print it… it will change the very existence of mankind beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations". Steady on old bean, you’re starting to sound like you approve of it. But what he’s saying isn’t strictly true is it?
A rival news network in New Zealand took great pleasure in shooting Mr. Williamson down (metaphorically not with a Cody Wilson printed gun) with an actual, real life expert. Olaf Diegel, the man who prints the guitars that are so popular on 3D Systems’ Cubify site, told 3 News “Right now printers can’t reproduce down to the atomic level…3D printing won’t be an issue for customs because you still need the materials within each border to make drugs or guns,”
In this humble bloggers opinion, while it is essential that governments do keep up with the ever changing face of technology it is important for them to realise that “keeping up” does not mean racing ahead into the realms of science fiction it just makes you look silly… but perhaps not as silly as calling your entire nation racist hey Maurice?