There’s no question 3D printing is more than a passing fad. According to recent research from Wohlers Report, the worldwide 3D printing industry is now expected to reach revenues of $12.8 billion by 2018, and exceed a whopping $21 billion worldwide by 2020.
Here are 9 ways this innovative technology is changing the world.
1. Outer Space Savior
When conducting space missions, it’s often hard to predict what tools and materials astronauts will need. And what happens if tools and materials become lost or damaged? Lowe’s and Made In Space are one giant leap ahead, partnering to develop and deploy the first commercial 3D printer to space.
2. Customized Healthcare in an Instant
Imagine a patient is rushed to the hospital, in desperate need of a customized medical device. Traditionally, patients have waited days for the device to be custom-fitted and returned to the hospital. With SAP HANA and 3D printing, that device can be built on-premise, completely customized, in record time.
3. Hairy Situation Solved
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute have found a way to use 3D printers to create realistic-looking hair, bristles, and other fibers.
4. Savior Under the Sea
Monaco is taking a deep dive with 3D printing, creating coral reefs to help preserve coral populations. The reefs will be submerged 27 meters into the waters off the shore of Monaco starting in the spring of 2016.
5. Delectable Dishes
While not designed for every type of food, the Foodini 3D printer comes pretty close. Using fresh ingredients, the printer promises to make cooking easier and healthier. Printers will be available early next year for chefs at select restaurants, with plans for wider release to consumers in the near future.
6. Beer Buzz Byproducts
As 3D printing becomes more varied, so too will the ingredients used to do the printing. For instance, a new product called “Buzzed”, developed by Fargo, ND-based 3Dom, uses beer byproducts leftover from the brewing process. Cheers!
7. Teen Crime Fighters
Popular TV shows like CSI and Cold Case have turned on kids to high-tech crime solving, but a North Carolina school is the first to use 3D printing to actually teach the subject to teens.
8. Preventing Extinction
Parts from sharks, tigers and rhinos have long been thought to carry powerful medicinal purposes and as a result, these animals are fighting a losing battle to extinction. Rhinos are getting a little help from 3D printed rhino horns, which hope to discourage poachers.
9. Seeing is Believing
3DPhotoWorks LLC, with support from the National Federation of the Blind, recently announced a 3D printing process that allows blind people to “see” fine art, diagrams, and other images.
What 3D printing possibilities are you most excited about?
Top image via Shutterstock