3D Printing technology has evolved a lot in the past years and has started to mature in terms of its real-world applications and capabilities. No doubt, we are still in the beginning phase of a true 3D printing revolution and it’s expected that as the technology advances it will come down in terms of price. We’ll continue to see innovative ways of putting 3-D printing technology to good use. Nonetheless, there are some pretty good uses of the technology in the market already and a strong indication of further disruption to come.
Following are some industries that 3D printing is expected to disrupt in the coming year:
1. Healthcare: Healthcare industry needs to cater to the individual needs of patients that requires a lot of specifications. Resources used for surgeries or to treat the patient are often customized, expensive and limited. These limitations can be eliminated by the use of 3D printing technology which can easily, affordably create a unique and customised piece catering to individual demand. With the help of this technology costs from prosthetics has gone down significantly from $100,000 to under $1000. 3D printing can also print body parts and internal organs often referred as bio-printing. Once this becomes commercially viable, patients will have access to single organs, printed using the size and organic structure they need.
2. Aerospace and defence. This industry is at the forefront of 3DP in the manufacturing industry. This sector entails to high value production and low volume. Using this technology yielding products that are faster, less bulky (better weight to thrust ratio), more economical (more fuel efficient) and more financially feasible has become possible. GE has also stated that its new Leap aircraft engine will include nineteen 3D-printed fuel nozzles, designed to last five times longer than traditionally made components.
3. Construction- The disruption in this industry has begun and is going to continue to happen for a long, long time. In 2016, this idea had become a reality. A highly durable house was 3d printed in China just in 45 days much faster than the conventional process. Its builders claimed it to be enough durable to withstand an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale. On similar notes Dubai is home to the first 3D-printed office and has ambitious plans to 3D print a quarter of the city’s buildings by 2030. Singapore is also planning to 3D-print public housing.
As the evolution of 3D printing continues to move forward—combining the best practices and safety standards—it will definitely become a common mode of construction in the future. Additionally, it will make housing more accessible, which is not only great for young people and families who need affordable homes, but also for people struggling with poverty, homelessness, or the aftermath of natural disasters. The scale and speed of 3D-printed buildings will continue to grow.
4. Food- Many people shy away from the thought of 3D-printed food, but there has been a lot of innovation in this area. From crystalized sugar cake toppers and intricate chocolate designs, to cracker-like yeast structures with seeds and spores that sprout over time, to ready-to-bake pizzas and filled ravioli, printed food has the culinary community talking. 3D printing is opening up a new frontier for this type of cuisine. A restaurant in London called Food Ink is offering a “multi-sensory food experience,” where a 3D printer produces dishes in front of diner’s eyes (diners who are sitting on 3D-printed chairs and using 3D-printed utensils). Moreover, early adopters to this technology are the German retirement homes, which serve a 3D-printed food product called Smoothfoods to elderly residents with weak gums and face difficulty in chewing. The EU has also invested nearly $3.3 million in this project with the hope of improving quality of life for weak and elderly people living in care facilities. For people who have trouble chewing or swallowing, this method produces purees that offer tastier alternatives to traditional meals such as baby food.
3-D printing is likely to cause the same kind of disruption as printing did, albeit in different industries. As the office printers made life easier for people who work with paper, similarly will the rise of 3-D printers do for people who work with stuff.
Think about this, in spite of having to order custom made parts and waiting for them to arrive, individuals will be able to download the specs and print them off right away, there and then.
There’s a lot of talk about 3-D printing, and many people are rapid to dismiss it as hype. Nothing could be further from the truth. The technology is becoming easier and easier to use, people are finding more and more uses for it, and it’s still in its early years.