We're reading a piece in Forbes that describes what they call the "3D Printing Revolution You Have Not Heard About". They refer to the less visible industrial application of 3D printing in the hearing aid market.
A hearing aid must fit precisely into the patient's ear and therefore must be custom made. Custom made items are ideal for 3D printing because the technology cannot cheaply mass produce anything. But it can produce one-off items in reasonable time and cost - precisely what is needed for hearing aids.
While the hearing aid industry has obviously benefited from 3D print technology, as apparently over 10M 3D printed hearing aids have been produced thus far, we think there are far more "custom product" industries that could benefit from similar automation.
Any product that requires a measurement followed by "sending it off for processing" could be included. Examples include eyeglasses, dental work or clothing. Progress will probably leak into items that today are mass produced, but would benefit from customization.
Shoes are a product we think could massively benefit from customization. Think about it - when was the last time you purchased a pair of shoes that fit perfectly? And even then you likely spent time trying on several sizes before making a decision.
This work should go away forever. Feet could be scanned to determine their exact size and dimensions. Style can be applied and selected via simulation. Finally, perfectly fitting shoes are produced, just for you.
This scenario will repeat in many industries as 3D print technology continues to advance its capabilities.