The future of 3D printing

An outlook on possible developments

In our last two posts, we took you on a journey through the history of 3D printing, from its early beginnings to its current state of development. But how will the technology develop in the coming years? To this end, today we want to venture an outlook into the future of 3D printing in various industries.

Mechanical engineering

The largest area of application for additive manufacturing today is the mechanical engineering industry, and it is also an example of some of the general advantages of 3D printing that have helped the technology reach its current stage of development and will also be important for future further development.

Additive manufacturing thus offers, among other things, the possibility of producing individual components and small batches in particular, for which conventional manufacturing processes are not economical, quickly, flexibly and cost-effectively. In addition, 3D printing is characterized by the advantage of being able to serve the increasing demand for individualized and personalized products very easily. Tool-less manufacturing also eliminates the need for long lead times for manufacturing products, and products can again be manufactured increasingly locally. Not least in the Corona pandemic, 3D printing was able to prove that the technology can offer rapid solutions, especially in the event of supply shortages and supply chain disruptions. These advantages and the knowledge of it will definitely be used in future crisis situations.

In addition, the development of 3D printing technology is also far from complete and there are still constant improvements and innovations in the various processes. And not only the technology itself, but also the materials used for it are continuously being developed and adapted to new needs. Thus, it can be assumed that in the future, not only will there be even more stable and resistant materials on the market, but also, for example, an increasing number of materials made from renewable raw materials that meet the desire for generally more sustainable production.

3D gedrucktes menschliches Herz

Healthcare Industry

Additive manufacturing is already used as a standard process in the healthcare industry today in some areas, such as the manufacture of dental implants. 3D printing is now also being used more and more frequently for the manufacture of prostheses and orthoses, as the technology allows them to be tailored very precisely to the body of the respective patient.

Particularly due to the ease with which it can be customized, 3D printing promises great potential in this area for the future as well. A recent study published by Reserach and Markets estimated that the healthcare 3D printing market was $1,036.58 million in 2020 and is expected to reach $5,846.74 million by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 20.10%.

In addition to the production of implants and prostheses, so-called bioprinting, that is, 3D printing with organic substances, is particularly promising for the future. The goal of the research here is to produce human organs using 3D printing. While this field is currently still relatively in the early stages of research, initial successes have already been recorded. In 2019, for example, researchers at Tel-Aviv University succeeded in printing a scaled-down model of a heart from human cells. This achievement certainly gives hope that it will one day be possible to implant 3D printed organs, which, thanks to the technology, will also be perfectly tailored to the individual patient. This could help numerous patients who are still waiting in vain for a suitable donor organ.

Architecture and construction industry

The fact that an entire building is produced using 3D printing may sound like a vision of the future, but it is already a reality. In Germany, for example, the first additively manufactured home was built in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2021. The printing process took just over 100 hours and was carried out using the BOD2 modular concrete 3D printer from the Danish company COBOD. The project was a collaboration between COBOD and the German construction company Peri.

However, it is not the only 3D printed building that already exists today. Similar projects have also been realized in the USA, France and Morocco, among other countries. Similar to bioprinting, 3D printing of buildings is still a relatively new trend, but these first projects already give an idea of the possibilities for the future.

In the future, 3D printing could not only make it possible to create living space much faster and more cost-effectively. The technology also gives you much greater freedom in the design of buildings. In addition, 3D printing is usually more resource-efficient than conventional processes, and research is already being carried out in various projects on environmentally friendly building materials, for example from agricultural waste or plant fibers. Thus, the technology could also help make the construction industry more sustainable in the future.


Aerospace was one of the first industries to embrace additive manufacturing and has driven and fostered some of the most innovation in 3D printing. Since even small weight savings in aircraft and spacecraft have an extremely positive impact on subsequent operating costs, developers and engineers are actively exploiting the great freedom in the design field to produce complex lightweight components.

So while 3D printing is already being used successfully to manufacture aerospace parts, researchers are now particularly interested in 3D printing in space itself. The first parts printed in space were produced from ceramics in 2020 using the stereolithography process. Due to the lack of gravity, these parts exhibited higher strength and lower residual stresses than if they were printed on earth. If more stable parts could be manufactured in this way in the future, this would also open up numerous new opportunities for industry and business.

On the ISS, research is also currently being conducted into bioprinting. The goal is to find out if this could be used to support medical treatment during long-term space expeditions and planetary settlements. Food supply can also be a challenge in space, and 3D printing could provide solutions here as well in the future. Various projects are currently underway in which, for example, an attempt is being made to produce edible meat from bovine cells using 3D printing. In the future, 3D printing of food could not only be beneficial in space, but could also help to counteract supply and food crises on Earth.

Of course, we cannot predict with certainty whether our outlook for the future will come true and how 3D printing will actually develop in the next few years. However, we are sure that there is still a lot of potential in the technology and are excited to see where the future of additive manufacturing leads.