3D printing has the potential to change the face of humanitarian aid and help millions of people around the world that are affected by disaster or war, according to Deloitte University.
Essentially a thought leadership program from Deloitte Consulting, the University commissioned a paper to focus on the potential impact of 3D printing on NGOs and humanitarian aid efforts.
The amount spent on aid is increasing, in 2014 $24.5 billion was spent on humanitarian aid around the world, which is a 19% year-on-year increase on 2013. In 2016, 89.3 million people are expected to receive some form of assistance.
But the very nature of human suffering means it can occur in isolated, remote corners of the world. That makes getting food, shelter and basic supplies to the affected people can become a labor-intensive and expensive business.
The actual supply chain costs 60-80% of the money spent and due to the infrastructure problems, the ‘last mile effect’ can cause real problems. An on-site 3D printer could cut the demand for separate deliveries, which would have a huge impact on the overall cost.
Charities and NGOs are already working together with online repositories to create open source libraries of everything from medical equipment to water taps.
Even keen enthusiasts at home can design a product that could make the difference in a warzone and upload them to the likes of MyMiniFactory. These are simple tools, but if engineers have to make them then they are time consuming and complicated. Downloading and printing things like this tap could be make a huge difference to the people on the ground.
The ability to create these on site means the talented doctors, engineers and aid workers on the ground won’t have to improvise. They can get the parts they need printed on demand.
A 3D printer powered by solar panels was recently revealed, too, which means the printer doesn’t even need power. That makes it an invaluable asset when it comes to rebuilding the infrastructure in a disaster area.
When NGOs like the Red Cross react to a disaster, too, they often don’t have the time or the lines of communication to plan effectively. So through experience they have a core ‘disaster pack’ that may not be suited to the particular requirements. It also means they have to stockpile certain goods, which is expensive in itself.
A 3D printer can reduce the amount they need to pack. It also means that a ‘one size fits all’ pack of filaments and powders can be packed instead of finished products. This helps reduce the overall size of the package as filaments and powders can be densely packed. That reduces the logistical cost and allows the NGO to pack other, deprioritized items.
Source : 3D printing industry