Additive Manufacturing and Printing

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Additive Manufacturing and Printing

Key Insight

Additive manufacturing allows us to create objects one layer at a time, and we can now do this using different materials.

Why It Matters

3D printing has moved from the fringe to the mainstream, offering new opportunities in medical and biosciences, manufacturing and art.


This year, a street-legal motorcycle produced using additive manufacturing processes will come to market.

Curtiss Motorcycle Company and additive manufacturing company Fast Radius collaborated on the electric bike, which uses parts that require a hybrid of manufacturing approaches—including 3D printing. Growth in new materials printing has made 3D printing a viable resource in the aerospace and automotive industries, which must meet stringent requirements for parts use. Last year, Airbus and Materialize created the first 3D-printed parts intended for use in the cabins of Airbus’s commercial aircraft.

And soon, “one size fits all” will take on a whole new meaning. If you’re thinking Star Trek Replicator, you’re not far off. Researchers are working toward scanning and producing objects in seconds—over time, this technology will be used in surgical centers to rapidly print replacement valves and joints using your own biomatter as models.

What’s Next

Last year, Chinese researchers successfully printed ceramics capable of transforming over time in response to stimuli such as heat and light. It’s a process known as 4D printing, and the practical applications are boundless. Imagine a heat shield that suddenly materializes during a fire, or a garden that plants itself when the ground has warmed to precisely the ideal temperature for each seed.

The Impact

We don’t yet have international product liability and intellectual property standards, norms, and regulations that govern additive manufacturing and printing. A regulatory framework built to protect designers, patents, corporations and individuals is likely on the horizon.


Autodesk, Materialize, Kodak, Ethereal Machines, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, University College Cork, Apis Cor, Organovo, MIT Media Lab, Airbus, GE, Formlabs, Aurora Labs, Arc Group, ExOne, Voxeljet, Stratasys, HP, Shapeways, MakerBot, University of Illinois Urbana, University College London.