In recent years, 3D printing technology has gone from a cutting-edge novelty to a growing and popular industry for new startups. Entrepreneurs and consumers alike can use 3D printers to create useful products ranging from jewelry and light fixtures to replicas of human tissue.
This revolutionary manufacturing process allows startups to create fast, affordable prototypes to attract investors and set ideas in motion. Here are 10 startups blazing the 3D printing trail.
The Natural Machines Foodini creates, as the company says, "real food. 3D printed." Foodini uses real, fresh ingredients that are prepared before printing, with the main idea of promoting cooking with fresh ingredients. The company hopes to encourage people to create homemade food, when they would otherwise be discouraged to do so because it can be difficult and time-consuming.
Foodini connects to the internet and has a built-in touch screen that allows users to choose recipes. Once the recipe is chosen, Foodini will instruct what food to put in each capsule, and then the printing begins. While Foodini is not available to the public yet, you can sign up for email notifications about the company's progress.
SOLS uses 3D printing, computer vision and data mapping to measure and analyze feet to make returning shoes for size issues a thing of the past. The company developed a system called SIZERIGHT that matches customer's unique anatomy to the perfect shoe.
SOLS has teamed up with RYKA to design a custom fit insole for the RykaFit Professional, and they hope to work with even more companies in the future to collaborate and create custom insoles for customers using their MAPP3D technology. Interested customers can sign up for exclusive access to the company's private beta.
Launched in January of 2016, Banneya is a contemporary, customizable, made-to-order jewelry company that uses 3D printing for precious metals.
Banneya says it is creating the "retailer of the future" with its digital modeling technology because it allows designers to create unique jewelry pieces made to order for each customer. All pieces can be customized and feature design elements that are impossible to create with traditional fabrication methods.
You've never seen a restaurant kitchen like this one: Food Ink has created the world's first 3D-printing restaurant, meaning that everything from the food you eat to the furniture you sit on has been created using a 3D printer.
The restaurants are in the pop-up stage, and had been solely in Europe until this year. They are planning a world tour, with major cities in the U.S. making the list. The dates haven't been announced yet, but you can be sure the experience will be worth the wait.
Ever wish your kid could have a doll that's completely custom-made to their liking? Makies uses 3D printing and other nu-manufacturing techniques to deliver customized and unique toys on demand.
As the company relocates its manufacturing process to the U.S., online orders are temporarily suspended, but when it's back up and running, customers can name their dolls, pick out their clothes, and any unique features that are desired. The company advises checking its website or contacting its customer service department to find out when Makies will be available again.
Based on 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 to medical implants or replacements.
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.Another startup making waves in the 3D printing world is Pirate 3D, a Palo Alto-based company with dreams of bringing 3D printers into everyone's home office.
After a Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $1.5M, the company recently launched its Buccaneer desktop printer, which makes it easy for first-timers to print their first 3D project. With the Windows, Android or iOS app, users can print objects wirelessly via their home WiFi network.
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 spoon.
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. After a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2016, the company raised enough money to produce its first round of spoons, which can be ordered online and shipped to your doorstep.
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.
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.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Peterson and Adam C. Uzialko.