Yes, You Can Print That: What’s Trending in 3-D Printing

The world of 3D printing is getting more practical every day, with expectations to grow to a market of $23 billion by 2022, according to Statistica.[1] Many industries are using 3D printing to revolutionize how projects are built and products are designed.

The technology is helping a variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, aviation and transportation. From making bionic hands to replacing materials in cars for a lighter body, the reach of 3D is broad.

Marines Print Barracks

The very first 3D printed barracks were recently completed by the United States Marines. This was not the first structure printed, but it was the first to be completed on-site, taking about 40 hours. Layer upon layer of concrete was printed and stacked. This phenomenal project has proven to the military that this process is viable in the field.

Metal: The Newest 3D Material

Many materials have been used in 3D printing. Metal has been a material that has been a bit elusive because metal is not readily available in a printable stage. However, new research from Yale University has found a new way to make this happen.[2]

The answer to the metal conundrum is to use bulk metallic glasses (BMGs). BMG does not have the same rigid atomic structure as metal alloys. They are more pliable, so they work better with a 3D printer.

This breakthrough opens new opportunities for 3D printing, mainly as a substitute for items that are being printed in plastic.

3D Printing Creates New Habitats

This next innovative use of 3D printing is literally changing the environment with printed reefs. Reefs are vital to the marine ecosystem; however, they are in danger in many areas of the world. Reef Design Lab’s Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) has been installed in several areas including Summer Island in the Maldives.[3] The lab is using 3D materials to help rebuild or create new reef and sustain wildlife.

Your Ideas Printed

Really, there is no limit to what 3D printers will soon be able to print. In fact, many 3D printing companies are ready to print on demand based on any idea. Sculpteo can accept up to 40 different file types and offers a huge variety of substrates. The company ShapeWays has a marketplace that delivers ideas and inspiration on what to do with 3D printers, cultivating more innovation every day.

With more uses considered every day for 3D printing, this technology will become more prevalent. As costs for theses printers decrease and more materials become available, 3D printers have the capability to build just about anything.

[1] https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS42211417

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369702118303663?via%3Dihub

[3] http://www.reefdesignlab.com/3d-printed-reefs-1/