With advances in modern technology, there has been a rise in the use of 3D printing by companies and individuals. The nonprofit and humanitarian sectors have begun using the technology in order to better achieve their goals. Oxfam is one of the nonprofit humanitarian organizations that has been trialing 3D printing to help with its disaster relief measures.
How Oxfam uses 3D printing is not a new concept; many other organizations have attempted to use the technology or are latching onto the idea of creating aid items in the area instead of having to ship them.
According to the Oxfam U.K. website, in 2014, Oxfam teamed with a design company called iMakr and asked its supporters with engineering and design expertise to help. The goal is to ultimately use 3D printing to print materials at the disaster site instead of having to ship everything there.
They want to use 3D printing to print their WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) kits. Not only would the kits save time, they would also save money in the long run for the organization, allowing for that money to be used elsewhere by Oxfam to conduct its mission.
Oxfam did a test run with 3D printing after the earthquake in Nepal. They used it for small parts that people may need, such as parts for water pipes. They worked with FieldReady, a nonprofit that specializes in using 3D printing and new technologies in its work.
FieldReady was using 3D printing to print medical tools and supplies in Nepal after the earthquake, showing that 3D printing can be expanded from just kits. It can also be used to make tools and instruments that are fully functional in everyday life. 3D printing by Oxfam was also trialed in Sri Lanka to help support a dam.
There is still a long way to go to see how Oxfam uses 3D printing in the future and it will be interesting to see if they will continue to lead the way with innovations in technology. While 3D printing is relatively new, other organizations can follow Oxfam’s model and try to use them and mold them to their missions in order to become more efficient and effective.
– Emilia Beuger