It may not be completely visible to the public yet, but perhaps no other area in the design and architecture industry has made as big of strides as 3D printing has in the last decade. Significant investment has been made in the technology, including by NASA, which is using the innovation to recreate lunar landing locations and models of space crafts.

Although there is still significant developments that need to occur for 3D printing to be accepted into mainstream architectural practices, it is still being implemented commercially today.

In the athletic shoe market, material is a massive differentiating factor among consumers. Under Armour is venturing into 3D printed materials to separate itself from Nike and Adidas, its two largest competitors.

Homes present perhaps the biggest opportunity for 3D printing. While it is still in its primitive stages, 3D printed homes have been developed and have the potential to erect homes in less than one week’s time while doing so for a much lower cost than traditional construction firms. With a labor shortage in the construction industry, 3D printing could fundamentally change the way homes are designed and constructed.

As of today, the medical field may have made the biggest strides with 3D printing technology. Particularly in education and training, 3D models of bones, ligaments and organs have already become popular in this field. In the near future, many medical professionals are confident that organs will be able to be successfully replaced with printed versions, extending lives.

 

Transportation has also been improved thanks to 3D printing. Starting with small additions like better designed bumpers and fenders, the industry is already looking at rethinking how cars and buses are manufactured. At the University of Buffalo, this bus is being tested to see the practicality of 3D printing in public transit.

 

Animals, like humans can benefit from artificial limbs and organs. This alligator is the recipient of a 3D printed tail, and entire underwater ecosystems are being restored and developed with man-made models.

This technology is still in its infancy, but as more investment is made, especially by organizations like NASA and private manufacturers, it will quickly implement itself into every facet of daily life.

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