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25 (Unexpected) 3D Printing Use Cases

For years, hype around 3D printing captured audiences in the mainstream press. With visions of a future including a 3D printer in every home, these predictions were light on details and ultimately most did not come to fruition. However, the possibilities of 3D printing were undeniable, despite the youth of the technology and the relatively low number of use cases that were viable in the past.

The initial hype masked legitimate and growing business applications for 3D printing. With a proliferation of high-performance desktop and benchtop machines being introduced into the market, we are now seeing a broader variety of businesses expanding their product offerings and delivering better results to customers.

What can you do with a 3D printer? Read on to discover 25 (often unexpected) 3D printing use cases that show the broad scope of possible applications for the technology.

Applications Report 2022
Report

The 2022 3D Printing Applications Report

A new industry report that compares how recent and early adopters are using 3D printing for their business, and explores future trends of the technology.

Designing the Cars of Tomorrow

3D printing can add enormous value to supply chains, unlocking a broad spectrum of production applications. The technology is growing more workable and affordable, with companies able to bring additive manufacturing in-house to support processes on the factory floor. New, resilient 3D printing materials are opening opportunities for the production of high precision, functional 3D prints that can stand in for final parts, offering customization opportunities that help designers radically push the boundaries of high-performance cars. Industrial design studio Vital Auto has put all of this technology to work creating high-fidelity prototypes and concept cars, rapidly working through iterations using a variety of advanced tools, including a large fleet of in-house 3D printers.

“We've used 3D printing from day one. We wanted to introduce it to our manufacturing processes, not only to reduce costs, but to give the customer more diversity with their designs and their ideas,” said Design Engineer Anthony Barnicott.

The automotive industry has seen the value additive manufacturing can add to multiple touch points in the creation of automobiles. This means going well beyond rapid prototyping to include:

  • Creating custom, complex, and high-performance parts
  • Producing tooling and manufacturing aids
  • Manufacturing replacement parts and spare parts on demand
  • Cutting costs and lead times by up to 90% compared to outsourcing

The Perfect Fit Headphone

Recent advancements in 3D printing technology have started to fundamentally change the audio industry, meaning that digital printing of custom fit ear devices for the audiology, noise protection, and consumer audiology industries has never been so affordable. In recent years, 3D printing manufacturers have brought skin-safe biocompatible materials to market, allowing for in-house production of ear models and headphone tips.

Custom fit offers a unique individual listening experience built around the earphone fitting exactly in the customers ear. This gives a secure fit that removes any possibility of earphones falling out of the ear, in addition to improved comfort and noise isolation.

“We are very excited about the concept of custom fit to deliver a custom experience to further enhance immersive listening. Formlabs shares Sennheiser’s drive for innovation – and improving the customer experience through this prototype is a testament to that mindset.”

Sennheiser Director AMBEO Immersive Audio, Veronique Larcher

The challenges that come with customized manufacturing can be overcome through the combination of Formlabs' disruptive printing technology and mobile scanning coupled with machine learning. This means customers can have easy access to custom fit earphones, with lead times reduced from four days to next day delivery or even same day.

The Next Generation of 3D Printed Surgical Instruments

restor3D tools being printed, along side their final form. 

Ten years ago, few people were talking about the huge impact 3D printing would have on the medical industry, from helping create advanced medical devices to patient-specific surgical guides. One company no one saw coming was restor3d, who leverages 3D printing capabilities to drastically improve surgical care by printing procedure-specific polymer instrumentation tailored to cervical spine implants.

With a fleet of over 25 Formlabs 3D printers in its production line, restor3D is already printing the next generation of surgical tools. For surgeons using these tools, this procedure-specific, single packed sterile instrumentation system results in:

  • Replacement of large, expensive surgical trays.
  • Ability to iterate designs and quickly introduce new tools or features based on surgeon preferences.
  • Dramatic reduction of supply chain and sterilization costs for hospitals.

Accelerating Tissue Engineering Research

As much as 3D printing technology has developed in the past few years, there are even more high-impact, use cases currently in development. 3D printed organs is one of them.

Being able to easily create new organs has for decades been a dream for scientists working in regenerative medicine. While it remains in its early stages, the use of the 3D workflow to produce organic tissue eligible for transplant is bearing early fruit.

Dr. Sam Pashneh-Tala from the University of Sheffield is leading the way. His research uses high-precision desktop stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing to enable the production of tissue-engineered blood vessels with a variety of geometries. This will allow for patient-specific vascular graft designs, improved surgical options, and provides a unique testing platform for new vascular medical devices for those suffering from cardiovascular disease—which is currently the number one cause of death worldwide.

“My differentiator is that I’m able to create blood vessels with geometries that are more closely matched to those found in the body. This offers the potential for improved surgical options and even patient-matched blood vessel designs. Without access to high-precision, affordable 3D printing, creating these shapes would not be possible, ” said Dr. Pashneh-Tal.

Bringing Cities To Life

The reconstruction of the three cities in the two different time periods consisted of over 650 segments, which were printed using Formlabs White Resin, each measuring 12x12cm.

The reconstruction of the three cities in the two different time periods consisted of over 650 segments, which were printed using Formlabs White Resin, each measuring 12x12cm. 

As an industry already based on geometric design, prototyping, and modeling, architecture stands to gain enormously from advances in 3D printing technology.

On top of saving time during model production, the 3D printed models allow architects to anticipate the effects of certain design features with much greater certainty, e.g., by seeing a model produced with a fuller complement of materials, an architect can measure aspects such a light flow through the structure with higher precision.

But 3D printing’s use case goes beyond a single model: some firms are recreating entire towns. Institute of Architecture at the Hochschule Mainz - University of Applied Sciences. The result is an extraordinary exhibition that showcases six large-scale models of the cities, in the years 800 and 1250 AD. The models consist of over 650 parts, all of which were created using SLA 3D printing technology.

End-Use Parts for High-Performance Footwear

The 990S TripleCell and the FuelCell Echo Triple

The 990S TripleCell and the FuelCell Echo Triple.

The sport-footwear industry has long relied on technology to optimize the performance of their products, and with the digital workflow they have more options than ever in customization.

Large brands like New Balance, Adidas, and Nike, having recognized the power of additive manufacture, intend to mass produce custom midsoles made from 3D printed materials. As in other industries, the digital workflow will augment traditional methods of manufacture here—critical, highly-customized components of each product will be entrusted to the 3D printing, and the rest left to traditional means.

Given the unique properties required for footwear, New Balance worked with Formlabs to create a custom printing material which could resist the daily wear and tear faced by an athletic shoe. Shoe materials experience  a variety of environments, with the additional need to withstand various levels of pressure thousands of times per day. Designed to create springy, resilient lattice structures, Rebound Resin has a much higher energy return, tear strength, and elongation than any other Formlabs material. Rebound Resin is strong enough to be used in gaskets, seals, and automotive interiors, but light and flexible enough for the sole of a shoe.

“One of the things that’s really exciting for us is that it provides a very different experience for the runner.”

Katherine Petrecca, General Manager of Footwear at the Innovation Design Studio, New Balance

Reinventing Modern Storytelling

3D printing has already been integrated into the production of Hollywood films and is widely used for practical visual effects and costuming.

Whereas the creation of film's most fantastic creatures once required meticulous handcraft, the increased deadline pressure and time demands of modern moviemaking have made a quicker method of creating practical effects vital. Effects studios like Aaron Sims Creative now use a hybridized approach, practical effect-making enhanced by the digital workflow, to create new opportunities for collaboration and cut lead times on bringing ideas to life.

“The Demogorgon was one of the first prints that we did using our Formlabs 3D printers, and we were amazed. Before that, we had always outsourced printing. So to be able to grow it in-house, and see a design that we helped create from the very beginning printed right in front of us, was kind of an amazing thing. It was like going back to the days when we used to sculpt with clay,” said Aaron Sims.

A Different Type of Dance and Music

3D printing's artistic potential is not limited to physical artwork. It also has the power to bring entirely new dimensions to forms like dance and music. Given the design freedom inherent in 3D printing, even the most complex or unique instruments can be modified or created from scratch, at a fraction of the price of traditionally made instruments.

Having been around for centuries and barely changing, the violin’s form is recognizable to all. Violin music has evolved to such a high level that the instrument has attained an almost legendary status in our culture. But Formlabs engineer Brian Chan challenged himself to create a fully-functional acoustic violin, using a 3D printer and Formlabs White Resin.

Art Restoration: Brings Antiquities Back to Life

3D scanning, CAD, and 3D printing have been used to restore the works of some of history's most famous artists, returning works by the likes of Michelangelo and da Vinci to their former glory.

Art restoration projects can be enhanced by combining 3D printing and 3D scanning, two powerful technologies that allow builders to take physical objects, turn them into three dimensional shapes, make changes or restorations, and re-print the parts.

Mattia Mercante uses 3D replication to replace lost pieces of sculptures and fine artworks at the world-renowned Opificio institute in Florence, allowing museum visitors to experience the art as the artists intended.

For one 17th-century reliquary, Mercante scanned intricate frame details from elsewhere on the piece using an HP 3D Structured Light Scanner, and then replicated the missing pieces on a Formlabs 3D printer. The prints were painted to appear identical to the original decorations. Best of all, the restoration required minimum CAD modeling, and was fast and affordable compared to hand craft.

Planes, Skulls, and Suitcases: Solving the Perfect Crime

3D printing has as much potential utility in reconstruction as it does in production. The work of a forensic artist is often made difficult by incomplete evidence. Digital technologies can be of tremendous use in legal investigations and can augment the abilities of forensic artists to reconstruct accurate models of persons of interest or victims.

The digital workflow here involves turning CT scans into 3D prints to aid in identification. For instance, when investigators find just part of a skull as evidence, a printer can model and replicate the complete sample.

Reconstructions of the appearance of crime victims have already played a key role in attaining justice, proving once again the utility of 3D printing beyond considerations of design and productive efficiency.

Just like 3D printing can be used for preoperative planning, CT scans of crime victims can help detectives get up-close to bones. Digital CT scan and X-ray data of remains can be used to produce 3D-printed replicas of various body parts. Then, the pathologist can determine the full circumstances of a crime, from the number of participants to the nature of the weapon used.

Building Better Prosthetics

3D printing's impact is not limited to improving workflows or enabling rapid prototyping. It can also change lives directly. With 30 million people worldwide in need of artificial limbs and braces, there is hope that 3D printing can provide new solutions where cost and specification have traditionally been hurdles.

3D printing can provide an affordable alternative that, like many related advances in medicine, can provide therapy that is much more closely tailored to a patient's needs. The affordability and customizability of 3D printing techniques can profoundly alter the quality of life for the better for those suffering from injury or disability, as we saw in this story of a father and son.

We saw this type of innovation first hand with Matej’s and Mateja’s son Nik, who was suffering from cerebral palsy. Matej set out with a simple goal: to enable Nik to walk. Months of research and development followed, resulting in a custom-made, 3D printed orthosis that provides support and correction exactly where Nik needs them, which finally helped him take his first steps independently. Watch the full video above and read their story.

Beyond prosthetics which return lost function to a user’s body, it is possible to 3D print devices which are, in some ways, even better than the limbs they are replacing. With 3D printing, this is no longer a future possibility about bionetic, robo-cop like body parts, but part of the latest in cutting-edge prosthetic production. Some firms, such as Psyonic, are already delivering advanced prosthetics.

New Forms of Housing and Construction

Maybe people think of 3D printing as producing smaller items which you can hold. In recent years, firms have been exploring manufacture-scale additive workflows that can produce much larger functional components. In the last few years, various initiatives have gotten underway to create houses and larger structures that are entirely the product of 3D printing, opening new frontiers in sustainable living and construction.

3D printing technique gives freedom of form to architects, even with previously less malleable building materials like concrete. More broadly speaking, it allows fully sustainable and energy-efficient homes to be built that also meet modern comfort standards. Construction by this means could be entirely waste-free, as well as less expensive and environmentally costly as traditional methods.

While you will not be moving into a 3D printed house on the near horizon, you can experience 3D printed construction projects today. The MX3D Bridge in Amsterdam is currently open to foot traffic. According to dezzen.com, the “structure used 4,500 kilograms of stainless steel, which was 3D-printed by robots in a factory over a period of six months before being craned into position over the canal this year.”

Source: www.dezeen.com

Powering the Space Race

With one of the highest barriers-to-entry of any industry in the world, space travel is ripe for 3D printing innovation. Lowering prototyping costs for expensive, space-specific tools and machines will lower costs and allow smaller companies to help innovate in space.

Aerospace startup Relativity has tested the creation of aluminum rocket engines using additive manufacturing. If successful, this application would sharply reduce the costs and practical difficulties of space travel, opening up the field to new business and to a vast potential for growth.

Masten Space Systems is another changemaker for 3D printing in the aerospace industry: founded in 2004, the company specializes in vertical takeoff and vertical landing rocketry. The company is launching a mission to the moon in 2022 as part of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Project. Using Formlabs 3D printers, Masten produced plastic rocket engines for R&D testing.

The company has experience in 3D printing in both plastics and metals--they’ve even helped develop new custom metals for their NASA Tipping Point project. “We really like 3D printed rocket engines because they enable you to do a lot of things that you can't do in a traditional manufacturing process. In our goal to drive down costs and increase our effectiveness, we started looking at how we could use the Stereolithography printers, particularly once Ceramic Resin and High Temp Resin were released. Those have some rather attractive engineering properties for seeing if we could actually use them in a rocket,” Matthew Kuhns, chief engineer at Masten, said.

Formlabs’ High Temp Resin and Rigid 10K Resin are examples of materials with optimal engineering properties for aerospace applications. High Temp Resin is designed for functional prototyping in high heat applications while Rigid 10K Resin is the stiffest material in our engineering portfolio, making it suitable for industrial-grade prototypes.

Making Generative Design Possible

Generative design is the next frontier in CAD design for engineers working in virtually all manufacturing industries. It harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to develop new high-performance design iterations that help solve complex challenges, reduce component weights and manufacturing costs, scale customization, and optimize performance.

3D printing excels at creating complex, organic objects. With a wide range of material properties tailored to specific business applications, expect to see design structures that you’ve never seen before. Engineers can leverage AI to discover and test new complex design iterations quickly, efficiently, and at scale, drastically shortening research and development timelines for new products. Then, with their in-house 3D printer, they can bring the complex shape to life to hold and inspect.

Brackets and struts where the forces are well-defined are common parts for generative design.

Want to learn more about generative design? Watch our free webinar where you will learn: why you see so many brackets when you google “generative design,” how to set up a design problem in Autodesk Fusion 360, how one company was able to lighten a wheelchair bracket by 40% using a generative design process for the first time, and much more.

Training the Workforce of Tomorrow

The Origin Labs 3D printing space, rendered.

Origin Labs, within the Innovation Hub, will have a space dedicated to 3D printing for students and the broader community. 

Most institutions of higher education are focused on preparing their students for the workforce of the future. The Pennsylvania State University is focused on the current workforce as well and has recently invested millions of dollars into building the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub, which serves the public as well as the University community.

The Appalachian mountain range in western and central Pennsylvania has historically been the center of the nation’s coal mining industry, and enjoyed a solid and prosperous economy in the first half of the twentieth century because of it. As global and domestic economies shifted away from coal, the Appalachian region suffered, with a higher rate of joblessness and one of the lowest household income rates in the country, as reported by the Appalachian Regional Commission.  
 
Over the last two decades, leadership at the local and state levels have sought to change that through investments in manufacturing, education, and technology. The Appalachian Regional Commission offers $1 million grants to “support educational opportunities and institutions, especially by connecting skill development and workforce training with local and regional business interests and opportunities.”

As additive manufacturing rapidly expands in a wide range of businesses (as seen in this blog post!), hiring managers are looking for employees trained in working in digital spaces and fluent in CAD. Universities are looking to address this market lead by creating large and well funded innovation hubs.

Enhancing Traditional Lesson Plans

Besides training tomorrow’s workforce in CAD and 3D printing, universities are starting to see the benefits of deploying 3D printers across a wide range of educational disciplines.

At UMass Lowell, that meant modernizing its sculpting and 3D design courses for the 21st century. Enter Yuko Oda, who joined the university in 2017 and got started by ordering a multitude of 3D printers, including a Formlabs SLA machine.

Yuko is able to take her passion for art and technology into the classroom, currently teaching sculpture,  3D modeling and animation, and interactive media. Most students know that they’re required to understand 3D animation and 3D modeling for future careers in various fields, including sculpture design for cinema. For studio artists, 3D modeling has become an essential skill.

“Students sculpt a 3D model, import it into Zbrush, then print in various resins, including Clear Resin. The ability for Formlabs machines to show intricacies that were modified in Zbrush is unparalleled when compared to other printers in the lab.”

Yuko Oda

One of the most promising new developments in sculpture is the integration of 3D printing and Virtual Reality (VR). This is especially salient for students intimidated by 3D design. VR is rapidly reducing barriers for 3D design, allowing artists and students to create with their hands in programs such as Oculus Medium. Yuko has taught 8th graders how to create a 3D object in 30 minutes in VR, and then print the artwork on a 3D printer. Even for seasoned sculptors, VR reduces the time it takes to go from an idea to a physical object, potentially opening up new areas of experimental art.

Saving an Endangered Bird

While caretakers at ZooTampa were performing a routine check-up on a 25-year-old great hornbill, they found a lesion at the base of the bird’s casque, the yellow helmet-like growth on top of the head. Further examination determined that the bird, named Crescent, was suffering from life-threatening cancer.

The cancer, located near the bird's skull, couldn't be removed because it housed part of the bird's sinuses. The team wanted to know if they could remove the casque, and replace it with a 3D printed replica designed specifically for this bird. Patient-specific prosthetics and devices have been used before in human procedures, but never for a great hornbill. Would it be possible, and if so, which materials would be safe for the bird?

ZooTampa says the successful 3D-printed “replacement beak,” was created using BioMed White Resin. This material is an opaque white material for biocompatible applications requiring long-term skin contact or short-term mucosal contact. Special among Formlabs SLA 3D printing materials, this medical-grade material is validated for short-term tissue, bone, and dentin contact.

Solving Supply Chain Disruptions

During the COVID-19 pandemic and following supply chain crises of 2021/22, many firms turned to 3D printing to help keep machines online and products rolling off the factory floor. The expanded use of in-house 3D printing to create end-use parts, such as replacement parts for machines, has made additive manufacturing a key tool to address supply chain problems.

Formlabs commissioned the 2022 3D Printing Applications Report to better understand what, if anything, has changed recently among 3D printing users. The report demonstrates the shift in attitudes around 3D printing from an R&D and prototyping tool to an invaluable manufacturing technology needed to meet evolving consumer preferences and overcome supply chain challenges. Whether working to ease supply chain constraints, creating limited run products, or personalizing devices, businesses have been forced to rethink how they produce goods to meet customer demand.

3D Printing 3D Printers

End-use parts printed on the Fuse 1.

An IR sensor purge printed on the Fuse 1 in Nylon 12 Powder.

Building 3D printers is always an engineering challenge. Packing industrial-grade performance into an affordable, sleek desktop machine requires years of engineering and design work. This was especially true of Formlabs’ much anticipated selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printer, the Fuse 1.

One of the tools Formlabs engineers used to prototype parts was the Fuse 1 itself. But the use of 3D printing didn’t stop at prototyping. Today, every single Fuse 1 unit shipped to customers  contains multiple production parts printed directly on a Fuse 1 using Nylon 12 Powder.

Using the Fuse 1 SLS printer to prototype and create end-use parts offered three main advantages, according to Seth Berg, the engineer program manager overseeing the Fuse 1:

  • The design freedom to create complex parts without internal support structures.
  • Reducing supply chains by prototyping and creating end-use parts in-house.
  • Eliminating outsourcing to achieve an affordable solution for small-batch production with a proven, versatile Nylon 12 material.

To see how the team did this, and which end-use parts on the 3D printer and 3D printers, watch the video below.

COVID-19 Emergency Supplies: Nasal Swabs

In May of 2020, Forbes ran an article titled: How 3D Printing Test Swabs Will Help Fulfill America's Shortage. They noted that the 3D printing industry has come together to tackle the COVID-19 swab shortage head on, with Formlabs, HP, Origin, Carbon, Desktop Metal and more working to ramp up swab production.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic required a global, concerted response. Through collaborating with USF and Northwell, Formlabs enabled a solution that has been deployed worldwide. With the accessible design, affordable equipment, and validated processes, the swab design enabled over forty million COVID tests in twenty five countries. Over the last year, Formlabs 3D printers have continued being used by governments and healthcare providers to improve patient testing and care. This global solution is just one example of how the agility of 3D printing can benefit the public good.

We saw this happen dramatically in Singapore, where Eye-2-Eye Communications ramped swab production to over 30,000 swabs per day to help keep the city safe.

“It has not only been an excellent opportunity to showcase the advantages of 3D printing for rapid design and development but it has also shown Formlabs effectiveness in being able to mass produce products in very short timeframes. Also, as we see spikes in cases across the globe it is reassuring to know we can scale our production relatively easily to meet demand if required,”said Chief Executive Officer of Eye-2-Eye Communications, Miles Podmore.

Agile Manufacturing: Aftermarket / Custom Parts

One controller with buttons printed on the Fuse 1 (left), and another with buttons injected molded (right).

One problem with creating custom aftermarket parts is these orders are typically low volume, and need to evolve in response to product updates by the original manufacturers. But with the rise of in-house 3D printing, custom manufacturing has sprouted in multiple industries.

Battle Beaver Customs is focused on delivering a premier gaming experience through custom gaming controllers. Their modifications make the controllers more responsive and more competitive, allowing players to increase their gaming potential and reach peak performance across a range of games. Rapid prototyping with the Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer allows Battle Beaver Customs to quickly change their mount and button designs. When building custom consumer products, quick turnaround times can pay dividends for businesses looking to stay ahead of their competitors. According to Head of Research and Design at Battle Beaver Customs, Michael Crunelle, the “Fuse 1 has been great for being able to make changes quickly, from concept to end-use part. Our competitors can’t keep up with us."

JetBoatPilot, a marine parts and accessories manufacturer, has built a reputation as an authority in the industry by creating aftermarket products that improve the performance and low speed handling of jet powered boats.

JetBoatPilot utilizes the Form 3 SLA and Fuse 1 selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printers to prototype and manufacture aftermarket parts. A newly designed and now top performing product, the Lateral Thruster 2.0, was designed and manufactured on the Fuse 1. Equipped with the Fuse 1 and Nylon 12 Powder, JetBoatPilot was able to cut costs by 6x compared to their previous manufacturing methods.“I probably would have made that (aluminum version) retail price somewhere in the $400 dollar range, maybe even $600 dollar range, if I really had pushed it. I wouldn't have sold nearly as many at $600. But now I'm selling it for $199 and the customer is happy as they can be. And I'm twenty times the cost of goods,” says JetBoatPilot founder Will Owens.

Creating the Best Bath Bombs

Lush Cosmetics row of products.

With 928 stores spanning across 48 countries, Lush Cosmetics is a retailer known globally for making creative and crowd pleasing products such as Massage Bars, Body Butters, Bath Bombs and more, attributes its success to being able to respond quickly to trends and customer demand.

To bring new, industry defining, highly-detailed cosmetics to life, Lush needed to turn to 3D printing for much more than prototyping new shapes. They’ve invested in a next-generation additive manufacturing center for mold creation, tooling, and end-use parts.

Vacuum forming.

The Lush Cosmetics team vacuum forms using 3D printed molds in-house. 

“We use our Formlabs 3D printers for a mix of mold creation, custom tooling, and end-use parts. We’re a reactive business and having this capability in-house means we don’t need to share designs externally as we own everything in the product development process,” said Damien Carter, Innovation Lab Manager at Lush Cosmetics.

True, Mass Customization For The First Time

3D printing is unleashing new possibilities and business opportunities. What used to be too complex, prohibitively expensive, or impractical to produce with traditional methods is available at no extra cost with digital technologies, giving full control to designers and opening the door for fully customizable consumer products to become a reality.

A good example of this is Gillette’s Razor Maker™, which gives customers the opportunity to customize the handle of their razor by picking various designs, colors, or adding custom text.

“For Gillette, piloting Razor Maker™ represents a crucial step in our customization journey where new technology and new business models must come together in order to deliver products that are as unique as our consumers,” said Donato Diez, global brand manager for Gillette and Razor Maker™

Printing Your Next Set of Teeth

Dentistry has also been one of the most prominent drivers of 3D printing investment, desktop 3D printers are an increasingly common sight in dental labs and practices. As a matter of fact, the popular clear aligners, thermoformed on 3D printed molds, are possibly the single most successful use of 3D printing we've seen to date.

Over the past ten years, 3D printing has so advanced in dental that now no new dental labs are opening without using some form of digital dentistry. With materials so good they can 3D print permanent crowns, full dentures, and more.

3D printing technologies thrive in an environment where our unique bodies require custom solutions. As a result, the dental industry is going through a rapid digital transformation with digital workflows bringing increased efficiency, consistently high quality, and lower costs to dental labs and practices.

3D Printed Luxury Eyeglasses

Nylon 11 Brillen Marcus Marienfeld

Next time you’re out for a night on the town, keep your eyes peeled for our next unexpected 3D printing use-case: 3D printing is coming to custom glasses frames.

Marcus Marienfeld AG set themselves apart from conventional glass frames, using different and unique production techniques to create their frames. Recently they started integrating selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printing into the production line for frames in their Swiss workshop for printing end-use parts and rapid tooling for forming titanium.

“You get very inventive and imaginative when you have a 3D printer in-house. I can do things with little effort that I wouldn't otherwise try," said Marcus Marienfeld.

Endless Possibilities

Visualizing 3D printing-driven changes in the way things are made does not require the feats of imagination it once did. As workflows have developed over the last several years and gained footholds in various industries, we are beginning to see that revolutionary potential demonstrated.

From dentistry and across healthcare to consumer goods, architecture, and manufacturing, the public is interacting more and more with the end products of 3D printing. Making custom parts cost-efficient, cutting lead times and overheads, and empowering customers by bringing them closer to the products they want—we can only expect the influence of 3D printing to continue expanding.