3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been around since 1984. But it wasn’t until recent advances in the technology that people really began to take notice.
Today, you can purchase 3D-printed shoes, 3D-printed jewelry, 3D-printed pens, and even 3D-printed vehicles. Software gurus are assessing whether to get into the development game for 3D printers. Mattel just unveiled a 3D printer for kids called the ThingMaker.
In 2014 alone, the 3D-printing industry grew by 35.2%. And although the industry saw a slight slowdown in 2015, innovations with 3D-printed products are visible among a wide range of industries. But perhaps the most exciting advances in 3D printing can be found in the world of medicine, where 3D printing is starting to shake things up, especially as the cost of 3D printing drops and the technology becomes more accessible.
Medical technologies often are expensive when they enter the market, becoming cheaper over time, but many of the new 3D-printed solutions are coming in at a reasonable price point. This shift has the potential to disrupt the alarming trajectory of rising health care costs at exactly the moment when aging Baby Boomers will be putting more pressure on the health care system.