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Can you 3D print an apple?

New technology means what was once fantasy, can now be a reality – just imagine being able to unlock a phone with a fingerprint or tell a speaker what music you want to play…!

While time travel and teleportation are yet to be achieved, 3D printing is one technological development that has made leaps and bounds in recent years. And it’s caught the imagination of big businesses too.

Apple has acquired a patent for an advanced 3D printing system, compatible with Augmented Reality devices and AR glasses. And the winner of NASA’s recent design competition for building houses on Mars used 3D printing and ice to create its final structure.

Previously a feature of futuristic sci-fi movies, these innovations are set to have a real impact on the way organisations conduct their businesses. Yet they also come with their own set of terms, features, specialisations and understanding…so, how can translations keep up?

Making sense of new technologies

Technical translation demands a different approach to general translation – it involves specific understanding and knowledge of the industry it relates to, as well as technological subject matters and key terminology.

It’s not just a case of producing a technically sound document either; having an in-depth understanding of commercial markets, target audiences, the link between technology and culture, and the context around these innovations is also desirable. Just like all translations, technical documents need to be culturally appropriate too, incorporating natural language alongside any jargon.

New technology, new challenges

Do new technological terms have a differently recorded name in other languages?
Can formatting, style and conciseness be retained when translating overseas?
How can you preserve – and reproduce – the technical content of the original document so that it can be understood easily and accurately?

These are just some of the challenges a translator must consider when dealing with technical documents, especially when the consequences of getting it wrong can be huge. In 2015 for instance, a series of errors in technical documentation and misinterpreted instructions for the handling of chemicals at a Chinese warehouse, resulted in an explosion that killed 173 people and caused $1.1 billion in damages.

New innovations carry new risks; developments in 3D bioprinting for example have groundbreaking potential, and have led to the making of a fully functional, artificial 3D printed organ! But though these innovations may be pioneering and transformative, the consequences at stake of translation inaccuracies within the medical industry are huge…

So, can you 3D print an apple?

Technically yes, you can print a model one, but you can’t print an actual 3D apple – not yet anyway! Just as a 3D printer relies on having the right information inputted to create an accurate model, technical translation associated with new innovations demands the correct information, knowledge and understanding from the start. For this reason it’s key that your translator is up to speed with upcoming technologies and all the terminology that goes with it.

Fail to achieve this and rather than opening up a raft of new possibilities, the translation associated with these brand spanking new technologies could simply damage opportunities and credibility to your company.

If your business is on the edge of a fast-growing technology, don’t put yourself at risk where translation is concerned – talk to us at Sally Walker Language Services about how our team of professionals can help.