Of the myriad tech trends we've seen surfacing on, 3D printing is one that's grown substantially, evolving into processes that are not only digitally efficient, but also help reduce manufacturing costs, time, an material use. 3D printing has become more consumer-friendly and affordable, and meets the market need for overall reduction in production costs, across industries.

Not only are we seeing traditional manufacturing and building processes being cut down both in terms of price and materials, but we're also seeing the technology employed to create customization. From cost-effective housing solutions to custom retail products, 3D printing is becoming a go-to solution for manufacturers, retailers and brands looking to create goods in half the time and often for a fraction of the cost of their traditional processing methods, and with less waste and burden on the environment. Companies in many parts of the world have already proven that 3D-printing can be done cheaply, efficiently and easily.



Italian car company XEV unveiled the first 3D-printed electric vehicle that is completely mass-producible. The LSEV was 3D-printed in just 3 days and cost only $7500. XEV partnered with Polymaker, a developer of 3D printing materials to roll out the car. While a traditional car has 2000 parts and components, the LSEV only has 50. By reducing plastic parts, utilizing 3D printed materials and employing a much shorter R&D process, XEV proved that manufacturing a car can be cost-effective and efficient.



SPEE3D, an Australian-based company, created the world's first metal-based 3D printer - LightSPEE3D. Armed with patented technology that uses a supersonic 3D deposition technology instead of heat to melt metals at a much faster rate, it can accelerate air up to 3 times the speed of sound. This tech gives a fillip to traditional 3D printing methods, increasing speed. For example, the LightSPEE3D machine can create a copper flywheel in 11 minutes and 38 seconds flat, and for just $6.85.



3D printing firm Icon partnering with non-profit New Story, is printing people homes. An 800 sq. ft. 3D printed house can be built in less than 24 hours at an average cost of only $4,000. The aim is to give more of the developing world's population access to homes. Chinese construction company HuaShang Tengda 3D printed a 400 sq. ft. two-story house in just 6 weeks. A home built using conventional means takes about 6 to 8 months. Fellow Chinese company, WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co., did one better, building an entire 6-story apartment complex with 3D printed materials.



ECCO, a Danish footwear brand, launched a project called QUANT-U, creating customized footwear options for their shoppers using 3D printing technology. Utilizing data from wearable sensors, the 3D scanners can determine not only your best fit, but how you typically move in your environment.Once all the specific sizing and specs are recorded, the data is translated into a custom midsole which is then printed and produced in-store. The way QUANT-U is putting 3D printing to work combines customization with mass production, opening the door for custom tailored, mass solutions in branding and retail.