As 3D printing continues to mature, its practical uses are seemingly infinite. From artwork and toys to entire buildings and even transplantable organs, this technology can go as far as our imaginations will allow.
While 3D printing may be most exciting for companies looking to streamline their prototyping technology, its potential for the non-tech consumer world is growing and evolving. That’s why we asked members of Forbes Technology Council what potential uses of 3D printing non-tech companies should be excited about and why. Keep an eye out for its use in these 10 applications.
1. DIY Product Prototyping
Prototyping of products has long been the barrier to innovation because inventors could do little more than dream about a product or idea. A friend’s 12-year-old son ordered a 3D printer on the internet, set it up without any parental guidance and started manufacturing fidget spinners. For a couple of weeks, this kid was making a killing—until all his classmates bought 3D printers. - Jack Weiss, Marena Cosmos
2. Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing is an important supply chain management tool that’s currently helping the U.S. Army enhance readiness to support soldiers on the battlefield. Because it relies on digital blueprints, the authenticity, confidentiality and integrity of the “digital thread” is critical to mitigating risk while achieving successful outcomes. - Arshad Noor, StrongKey
3. Rare Parts Replacement
The potential of metal-based 3D printing will allow for the creation of rare discontinued replacement parts in a wide variety of applications. Repair shops could handle a much wider variety of clientele, and online retailers may be able to print unique parts, providing more products through a just-in-time inventory approach. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket
4. Automotive Prototyping
3D printing has overcome the hype and is now broadly adopted by non-tech businesses. The automobile industry is using it to rapidly prototype new car models. 3D printing is used to produce spare and replacement parts in sectors such as aerospace. Healthcare has a wide variety of 3D printing applications ranging from molds in dentistry to prosthetics, as well as 3D printed models for complex surgeries. - Swathi Young, Integrity Management Systems Inc.
5. Fraud Prevention
3D printing is showing promise in terms of preventing card-present fraud in things like point-of-sale systems and ATMs. For example, banks are now using 3D printing to design and produce ATM components that prevent credit card skimming. As the digital and physical security worlds meet, 3D printing will play a vital role in creating hardware to fight fraud. - John Shin, RSI Security
6. Customizable Solutions
The shift from broad, one-size-fits-all solutions to more customizable and personalized offerings has been a major trend in recent years, and 3D printing has the potential to take it a step further. Companies will be able to offer greater flexibility and personalization on the specifications and design of products sold without the need to dramatically mark up the cost. - Ron Cogburn, Exela Technologies
7. Manufacturing and Logistics
3D printing is upending the status quo for how companies develop, build and deliver products. People are even 3D printing food and houses on site! Thanks to this technology, sourcing for raw materials, manufacturing and logistics will never be the same. The efficiency, flexibility and lower costs that 3D printing brings can change how organizations get things done in practically every industry. - Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC
8. Lowered Production Costs
3D printing is being used to lower costs for companies so they can offer products at lower costs. For example, in 2018 ICON 3D printed a house at the South by Southwest festival. It not only could be used to provide sustainable housing around the world but could also help people affected by natural disasters by quickly providing replacement housing. - Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
9. Apparel Printing
I think the apparel industry is ripe for disruption with 3D printing. With 3D, customers can print their own gloves, belts and glasses to meet their needs. This can provide co-creation opportunities for retailers and provide personalized design to customers. - Buyan Thyagarajan, Eigen X
10. Medicine and Healthcare Applications
I see 3D printing having a tremendous impact on medicine and general healthcare in the coming years. There are millions of people who need access to affordable prosthetics, and 3D printing is a cost-effective solution. It gives medical staff the ability to map and uniquely design each printout to a patient’s specific needs. This technology will certainly improve the lives of many people.