3D printing is a process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down thousands of layers of a material. A 3D representation of the item to be printed is created using a scanner, computer-aided design (CAD) or other modeling software that is input to the printer. This technology has existed since the 1980s. However, it did not catch on due to high cost for most end-products. But now, this scenario is about to change.

1An emerging class of mid-level 3-D printers is beginning to offer many high-end features at lower price points. Printer speeds are increasing across the range of products. Key patents which had restricted the growth of this market so far are about to expire, a development likely to speed up the pace of innovation. Canalys, a market research firm, predicts the global market for 3D printers and services will grow from $2.5 billion in 2013 to $16.2 billion in 2018, a CAGR of 45.7 percent.

As it grows, 3D printing technologies is slated to transform all major industries and impact all aspects of how we live.

Few areas where 3D printing can be the big game-changer are given below along with examples

3 One of the key areas where 3D printing (3DP) has been a breakthrough success is medicine. Few makers of hearing aids and dental braces have embraced the 3DP technology for finished products.Recently a London-based design firm Layer announced a 3D printed wheelchair which they claimed will be more comfortable for its user. The primary reason for this claim is because the user’s measurements are taken, meaning that this wheelchair has been designed to suit the user’s body.

4 Astonishing as it may be, 3DP has progressed enough to build complete houses. UN estimates that by 2030 approximately 3 billion people will need housing and 3D printers are being seen as one potential solution. WASP, an Italian engineering company, has set out to solve the global housing crisis by building houses using sustainable materials. It is designing houses for use in areas with limited infrastructure or resources.

40 ft tall, 20 ft wide printer building structures using products like clay or dirt
6 With 3D printing, artists are entering a new realm as they use technology to create eerily precise sculptures of human figures.

Current market for 3-D printers and services is still highly bifurcated—at the low end are limited-function offerings of interest to casual users. At the high end are expensive printers that have a limited user base. The key for market growth is to develop in the middle price range to achieve advancement in performance, multiple material capabilities and in printing final products.

Toronto-based artist, Evan Penny with his life-like sculptural self-portrait