When I was in college, I wrote an article titled "What is 3D printing?" for a journalism course. About five years have passed since then, and such a broad headline is outdated today. The general public more or less knows what 3D printing is and doesn't need an article explaining it to them.
The technology keeps cropping up in more and more areas—medicine, cooking, and now the auto industry. Volkswagen, the world's largest car manufacturer, announced this month that within the next two to three years, it hopes to be mass producing car parts with 3D printers.
Not surprisingly, the technology has also emerged on college campuses nationwide, where students use them to print objects for academics as well as for fun. For all their usefulness and potential to revolutionize industry, though, studies have shown 3D printers can emit hazardous gases and create combustible dusts, among other safety concerns, and, therefore, they must be used in well-regulated spaces. This has generated concerns from campus safety officials, who worry about their unofficial use in dorm rooms and other corners of campus. I wrote about the phenomenon in an article titled "3D Printers Go Mainstream" in the September/October issue of NFPA Journal.