Although 3D additive manufacturing processes often get noticed, it's the materials that create the prototype, the model, or the end-product component. It's the new materials, not new processes, that have made it possible recently to produce low volumes of high-quality, complex models, parts, and complete products.
These products are meeting the rigorous requirements of aerospace, military, automotive, and medical applications. Completely functional dental implants and surgical guides, skull models, and models of hands and feet containing visible bone structures are some of the objects being made with extremely strong, easy-to-model, or biocompatible materials.
Some of these materials are also used in more exotic applications. Laser-sintered titanium can serve as the basis of medical implants or automotive parts. It can even quench the fashion industry's insatiable thirst for weird and unlikely looks in jewelry and shoes. Other 3D materials can help create anything from robot components and unmanned aerial vehicles to prototypes for sneaker soles, motocross helmets, and skateboard decks.
Click the image below to start a slideshow highlighting some of the newest innovations in 3D materials.
3D printing with ultra-clear materials can be used to make highly accurate medical models
that show detailed bone structures.