3d printing is the future of all manufacturing... *crickets*... yeah, pretty much what I thought. It's a great technique for low volume parts, and the advances in materials science in the subject area have yielded some spectacular results.
One of the biggest draw backs to using 3d printed anything really, is that the layered approach produces many fault lines which severely limits the strength of a 3d printed object.
But what if... we could take that inherent weakness and turn it into a strength?
How could we do this?
Put simply, the wonder material known as graphene. I'm guessing we have a matter of months before some research facility layers their 3d printed models with graphene to produce 3d components with incredible directional strength. Combine this with a mixed material approach and you can easily print off layered multi material composites, where the core of the part/item/sheet/feature is a light weight space holding material, while the structural integrity of the part is a high strength alloy/graphene composite coating the exterior. Best of all? This can all be done on one machine! and the process is damn near infinitely configurable with negligible time differences in setup time.
I wish I had billions so I could invest in this.