3D Printing Startups

3D Printing Startups
Credit: 3D printing image via Shutterstock

Whether they're designing hyper-modern light fixtures or reproducing human tissues, startups all over the world are using 3D printing as a foundation for building innovative businesses.

3D printing allows startups to create fast, affordable prototypes to attract investors and set ideas in motion. And due to the highly-customizable nature of 3D printed objects, this new manufacturing process is revolutionizing the way that businesses interact with their customers.

Here are eight startups putting 3D printing to work.

XJet

XJet
Credit: XJET

XJet is an Israel-based 3D printing company focused on creating metal parts for manufacturing purposes by employing sealed cartridges of liquid material. Other metal printers rely on dust filings, which are loaded into the printer by hand, while XJet has pioneered the use of liquid metal as a more affordable alternative.

The company's vision is to revolutionize the manufacturing industry by replacing the current methods of printing metal parts, bringing more cost-effective components to the market. XJet first released its "Nanoparticle Jetting" technology in May 2016.

Shapeways

Shapeways
Credit: Shapeways.com

Founded in 2007, Shapeways is a virtual 3D printing marketplace for making, buying and selling 3D-printed creations. Shop owners- or anyone else with a 3D-printable idea- can build a virtual model of their product and have it printed by Shapeways.

From sterling silver jewelry to the world's tiniest Rubik's cube, Shapeways has a host of beautiful- and weird- items for sale. When you order something from a shop, Shapeways prints it, ships it and compensates the shop owner.

This modern marketplace is popular with 3D enthusiasts all over the world and provides a great platform for designers that want to create innovative products or prototypes without spending all their money on manufacturing.

Pirate 3D

Pirate 3D
Credit: Pirate3D.com

Another startup making waves in the 3D printing world is Pirate 3D, a Palo Alto-based company with dreams of bringing 3D printers into everyones' home office.

The company's Buccaneer desktop 3D printer, which has raised nearly $1 million on Kickstarter, can print wirelessly from Android and iOS devices and is allegedly very user-friendly.

The Buccaneer is also very wallet-friendly, with an anticipated sale price of about $350. That's a sixth of the price of MakerBot's most recent desktop model, the Replicator 2.

Spuni

Spuni
Credit: Spuni.com

No one has ever been accused of being born with a 3D-printed spoon in their mouth — until now. Spuni, the ergonomically designed baby spoon, was created by two MIT grads fed up with the mess that accompanies feeding a baby from a regular baby spoon.

In order to make their Spuni dreams come true, the product's creators used 3D printing to design and perfect a prototype that they could test on hungry babies.

Clearly the prototype worked well, because Spuni has since raised over $35,000 with its Indiegogo campaign and its first products are being shipped to customers this month.

Tecnologia Humana 3D

Tecnologia Humana 3D
Credit: Feto3d.com
Viewing their unborn child on an ultrasound screen for the first time is one of the most exciting moments for expectant parents. Tecnologia Humana 3D, a Brazilian company specializing in customizable 3D-printed orthotics, takes this one step further, and offers mothers and fathers-to-be a three dimensional look at their beloved fetus in utero.

That's right — a 3D-printed ultrasound. The Japanese company Fasotec offers a similar product for expecting parents at a pregnancy clinic in Tokyo. For just over $1,000, customers can take home a 3D printed, key-chain sized fetus of their very own.

Organovo

Organovo
Credit: Organovo.com

Based in San Diego, Organovo is a biotech startup focused on the development of 3D printed biological materials, particularly human tissues. Since the company's founding in 2007, it has pioneered research in 3D bioprinting, creating synthetic tissues that function just like real human tissues.

Materials printed at Organovo help researchers study diseases and allow them to test the effects of drugs on human tissue without putting anyone at risk. The company is also working on printing materials — like liver tissue — that can be used for medical implants or replacements.

Freedom of Creation

Freedom of Creation
Credit: Freedomofcreation.com

Founded in 2000, Dutch design studio Freedom of Creation has long been a pioneer in the field of 3D printing. The company is best known for its innovative home furnishings and lighting fixtures, which have been featured everywhere from the Museum of Modern Art to Hilton hotels.

Freedom of Creation prides itself on being among the first wave of startups to use 3D printing as an affordable and highly customizable manufacturing option. The company already Nike, Nokia, Hyundai and L'Oreal among its clients.

Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko.