Water: it’s been around longer than the human race, and quite possibly longer than this earth. Across all those millennia, water itself hasn’t changed much at all with the times. It has always consisted of those same three molecules, always been able to take the form of solid, liquid or gas. The fact that innovators are driven to keep this oldest and perhaps most “unchanging” resource known to mankind ahead of the technological curve speaks volumes – or should we say gallons – to the value of water.
These blogs frequently address the technological advances in water conservation, reuse and accessibility. However, today’s technology topic addresses a new angle that has less to do with the water, and more to do with the water container. Moreover, it points not to advanced underground engineering and hi-tech desalination systems, but instead to the emergence of 3D printing.
Technology gurus and developers at GE Appliances’ FirstBuild microfactory have come up with a solution to assure cold, purified water is always available for drinking virtually anywhere there’s a refrigerator without adding to the excess of plastic water bottles compromising the environment. This solution is a self-refillable water pitcher that sits in the refrigerator and connects with the appliance’s waterlines so it remains continuously full and ready for use. No mess, no worry about being stuck with lukewarm tap water… and MORE benefits for the environment as well as cost savings as compared to monumental purchases of bottled water.
But, as they say, “that’s not all!” GE has only manufactured a limited number of these self-refilling pitchers, opting instead to make all the parts of the “user kit” available online for 3D printing. Not only does this approach make the pitcher more accessible and affordable as 3D printing trends upward, but it is also environmentally responsible, eliminating excess packaging not to mention pollution caused from manufacturing and shipping.
At first pass this self-refilling pitcher and its 3D-printable parts may appear to be just a gimmicky innovation meant to capture the attention of the ‘geeks and office nerds’ looking to do anything and everything with their 3D printer. But a closer look reveals water and environmental responsibility on many levels. The self-refilling pitcher promises to earn the attention of many other groups and offers an exciting look at what the future may hold as scientists work to keep the resource that is as old as the hills ahead of the curve.