3D printed movie props, hearing aids, and orthodontic braces just aren’t cutting it – at least not for the innovative Green Party in New Zealand! Just this week, ICT spokesman Gareth Hughes unveiled an ambitious plan to investigate whether New Zealand could become a hub for 3D Printing. 3D printing featured heavily in the party’s “Blueprint For The Future” paper, recently released, as part of its “Smart Green Innovation” package in the context of future manufacturing and education strategies.
“The Green Party in Government will establish a digital manufacturing taskforce to investigate the opportunities, identify any gaps or barriers, recommend how to encourage digital manufacturing, and investigate any regulatory and intellectual property implications,” a Green Party brochure states.
This initiative, if implemented, will create a taskforce directed by the Green Party to investigate 3D printing and encourage strategic development of the technology in schools, universities, and community-run workshops. Students will become familiar with such technologies, learn the skills that the industry needs, and have easy access to prototyping and 3D printing equipment.
As the late professor Paul Callaghan said, “New Zealand’s path to prosperity lies in technology niches, and 3D printing offers one potential niche for us – a country that specializes in innovation and design, and mitigates our distance from markets. There may be big advantages for countries that adopt 3D printing early on.”
With it’s potential to be more environmentally friendly, as it creates less waste and requires less energy output, 3D printing offers a viable, yet profitable opportunity for the manufacturing sector to move towards a more eco-friendly solution. Should New Zealand choose to invest in their youth — and future workforce — they will have an opportunity to create, disrupt and “profit from designing the products, not just from importing designs and printing them.” The choice is in their hands, and the country will go to the polls next year.