Paul Gordon Collier
3D Printers are empowering people to manufacture their own goods and even replacement parts. But there are some unintended consequences to 3D printers that in one sense are not good but in another sense foreshadow the power of liberty-enabling technologies such as 3D printers.
The case comes from Iran, who, while some sanctions have been lifted, still faces stiff sanctions due to its nuclear weapons program. One consequence of the sanctions is Iran’s inability to acquire medical supplies at a reasonable price. specifically prosthetics. For this, Iran has turned to the 3D printer.
Iran has developed a raw material which will enable them to use 3D printers to manufacture their own prosthetics, circumventing, legally, part of the sanctions against them
From the managing director of the Iranian company that developed the raw material, “This material which can be applied for precise simulating of body’s hard tissues and is a prerequisite to producing complicated medical prostheses and has training applications as well has passed tests successfully and used in the 3D-print machines.”
While the sanctions do not prevent foreign countries from selling prosthetics to Iran, the cost of importing these prosthetics, thanks in large part to the overall effect of sanctions, is prohibitively high. With the successful testing of the 3D printers with the new raw material, the cost of prosthetics in Iran will be 1/6 the cost of importing the prosthetics from other nations.
The bad news is this technology is enabling an Islamo-Fascist nation to lessen the effects of sanctions that could at least slow down the development of nuclear weapons by Iran (at least that is their design). The good news is this technology is potentially empowering others to become less reliant on states and large-scale systems in general. While very few want to see Iran develop a nuclear weapon, Iran’s ability to make its own decisions (even if they’re not the ones we want them to make) is empowered by its lessening of dependence on large-scale systems that would rather it did something different than develop a nuclear weapon.