The next big thing, known as 3D printing or additive manufacturing, has created great opportunities within multiple industries today, and it just continues to advance throughout the world. This concept began much earlier than most people think. Charles “Chuck” Hull, an American inventor, is credited as the creator of 3D printing due to patent rights, however, there is evidence of earlier studies for this process. In 1981, a Japanese doctor named Hideo Kodama applied to patent a laser beam resin curing system called a rapid prototyping device, but he did not have the funding to complete the process within the one year deadline, thus it never went through. Next, the French trio, Alaine Le Méhauté, Oliver de Witte, and Jean Claude André, applied to patent their own rapid prototyping device in 1984, but again lacked support and funding, which lead to the failure of the project again. Three weeks after the French trio filed for their patent, Chuck Hull applied for a patent for his technology, called stereolithography. With hard work and determination, 1984 became a lucky year for 3D printing. Hull became frustrated trying to make the small parts for custom tabletops and furniture at his job and suggested using the UV lamps to cure photosensitive resin layer-by-layer (a similar process to earlier attempts), eventually creating a piece. After two years, the patent for stereolithography was issued in 1986. Stereolithography is a process by which a photosensitive liquid turns into a 3D plastic layer-by-layer with a high-powered laser. It is referred to as SLA 3D printing more commonly. Within that same year, Hull started his company, 3D Systems in Valencia, California, and they released their first commercial product in 1988, called the SLA-1. Today they are one of the largest 3D printing companies in the country and continue to innovate the technology to go along with its large demand to continuously advance. Along with SLA, there are two other prominent forms of 3D printing today: SLS and FDM. After the introduction of the SLA, an undergraduate student at the University of Texas, Carl Deckard, filed for a patent for the selective laser sintering (SLS) in 1988. The SLS process uses a CO2 laser and thermoplastic polymer and is considered the most complex. This machine is only capable of producing chunks of plastic, but the quality and details were not of highest priority, but to test SLS in general. While awaiting patent approval for the SLS, another patent for this technology was submitted that same year. Scott Crump, currently well-known as the co-founder of Stratasys, suggested fused deposition modeling (FDM). The FDM process is where layers of plastic are melted together in a pattern to create the shape. FDM is also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF) because both the phrase “fused deposition modeling” and FDM were trademarked by Stratasys in 1991. Stratasys’ patent was approved in 1992 and jump-started the major advances in the additive manufacturing world. Like stated earlier, people often think of 3D printing as a recent discovery, but it had an extensive background that is currently leading to a bright future. It is majorly impacting many industries throughout the world, leading to a more efficient and less costly solution to everyday problems. In recent years, 3D printing performs crucial roles in many applications, with the most important being manufacturing and medical industries, as well as social and cultural areas that make 3D printing possible for commercial grounds. The progression of three-dimensional printing in the world today shows just how versatile it is, and how it will better many subcategories of society. Additive manufacturing’s earliest applications have been on the repair side of manufacturing. As stated earlier, rapid prototyping was one of the earliest examples of additive manufacturing, and its entire mission was to increase time efficiency and promote cost efficiency in the development of small parts. For example, Charles Hull, who became irritated with the time and perfection, it took to make these tiny pieces for custom tabletops and furniture at his job, and, in turn, created the SLS form of 3D printing. Additionally, small pieces were once a costly deficiency to companies, thus 3D printing eradicated that entirely. 3D printing is moving further into the production side of manufacturing in creative, and even unexpected ways. Manufacturing could be broken down into many more categories: Cloud-based additive manufacturing, mass customization, rapid manufacturing/prototyping, research, and food production. Firstly, the cloud-based additive manufacturing means that the data for 3D printing is stored, managed, and processed on a network of remote Internet servers, rather than local servers (or personal servers). The “cloud” allows for the lack of control by one person, and also, does not require a specific location for it to work, since it is on the internet. Distributed manufacturing is a form of decentralized manufacturing practiced by using the cloud. Research stated, “Cloud-based additive manufacturing (AM) has shown its potential in the market in recent years. When the demand increases, it becomes more important to efficiently schedule tasks to achieve lower production time and cost” (Information Technology). Reemphasizing the importance of the growth AM promotes. The current cloud platforms focus on providing simple services, rather than the entire 3D printing process. The internet allows opportunity in the cloud to grow and continue to expand and make a more integrated process of both hard resources, such as 3D printers and the materials and soft resources from design, process planning, and printing. Overall, it allows the customer full control over the entire printing process at any time, since it is over the internet. Not only is AM beneficial for time efficiency and control, but it also allows for mass customization of certain items online. Secondly, mass customization allows for consumers of various companies to customize objects online, using easy customizable software, and then, the design is 3D printed and sent to the consumers. 3D printing allows two factors to be achieved: preference fit (desired to be as high as possible) and design effort (desired to be as low as possible). Mass production yields economic value for the customer, since it is their design; it creates a sense of fulfillment. According to the Hutchinson Encyclopedia, mass customization is “[the] process of adding an element of customization, with the aid of technology, to mass-production techniques to give a product that can be customized for each customer” (Mass Customization). Overall, it allows a company to make more money on a product that is only being slightly altered, since it creates a sense of pride within the customer when they design their own product. Rapid manufacturing and rapid prototyping go hand-in-hand with mass customization. Next, companies use rapid manufacturing to help aid with the final part of production. Rapid manufacturing is the use of 3D printing technologies for final part production, and it allows mass customization since it draws upon the experiences of the cloud (Franke). Along with rapid manufacturing, there is a rapid prototyping as well. Rapid prototyping is duplicating process that is used to picture what an app and/or website will look like in order to receive feedback from users, stakeholders, developers, and designers. Rapid prototyping improves the quality of designs by ameliorating the communication of the various parties, and significantly decreases the chance of creating something that no one wants. It is a three-step process that is repeated as many times as necessary to print the object. The steps include creating a prototype, reviewing the prototype, and refining it until it is up to par. The next aspect of manufacturing is research, and rapid prototyping is an example of a research-based process. Next, 3D printing is quite essential in lab-based research today, due to its ability to create complex geometric shapes. A project in 2012 proved that it is possible and even useful to use 3D printing techniques in order to produce chemical compounds. First, they printed chemical reaction vessels, then used the printer to deposit the reactants into them, thus producing chemical compounds. Although the validity of the process has been proven, there has not been any further projects with this application. FDM is a frequent technique used for this process because it creates an air and watertight seals on the object over the span of days. 3D printing is also used in research labs to manufacture various components for experiments. Research on 3D printing technologies led to the ability to 3D print certain food. Additive manufacturing of food is currently advancing today. Food is printed layer by layer, into its 3-dimensional shape. Chocolate and candy, and flat foods, such as pasta, crackers, and pizza are the easiest candidates for 3D printed food. NASA is currently studying whether this technology will be a good candidate for food production in space. They are also researching ways to create less food waste, and to ensure that maximum nutritional requirements are being met in the astronaut’s journey through 3D printed food. Safety and labeling will present themselves as issues once 3D printed food is put on the market. There is serious concern about both short-term and long-term health hazards, since it is artificial and genetically created, rather than naturally grown or produced. Along with the manufacturing industry, 3D printing is also advancing the industrial industry. A major component of the industrial industry is clothing, and additive manufacturing is advancing the production of clothing. Commercially, Nike used 3D printing to create the prototype and manufacture the 2012 Vapor Laser Talon shoes for football players, and New Balance is 3D printing custom shoes for athletic wear. Once 3D printing was introduced to the clothing industry, it became a major component in custom fitting items. For example, eye wear became a popular custom moment, due to the great variation in human beings. This process is only able to print the frames of glasses, not the actual lenses. Criticism of 3D printed clothing is prevalent because human nature is to dress in a similar fashion as others since that is the pieces of the time. The unlimited variations of customization are seen as a flaw in the clothing industry. Similarly to Charles Hull’s experience in his original job working with custom table tops and furniture, the automobile industry began to use 3D printed parts for cars and airplanes as well. In 2016, Alcoa, an aluminum company, announced that they will be producing 3D printed parts for commercial airplanes. While this was a commonality on the outside of the plane, however, this is a fairly new concept when it comes to 3D printed pieces within the engine. A Swedish company is currently producing a super car, in which they plan to utilize 3D printed parts. The benefits are mainly creating a lighter car, with the same material, but since it is 3D printed it is lighter and perfect. The United States Air Force has begun utilizing 3D printed parts as spares. Another example of 3D printing in industrial aspects is in construction work. The construction industry just recently began to jump on the bandwagon, since the popularity of 3D printers went up and the cost per unit went down. 3D printing can be used in numerous ways. First, it could be used to print realistic models of the plan. Second, it could be used to print components for their construction. Benefits include a faster and more accurate way to produce the parts needed to complete the construction, and economic benefits, such as lowering labor costs and producing a significant less amount of waste. Along with the industrial industry, 3D printing is impacting the sociocultural industry as well. The sociocultural industry is a mixture of social and cultural aspects in today’s society, essentially the arts. Art and jewelry have become a major aspect of 3D printing technology. It allows for the realistic duplication of items, which previously would have to be replicated via expensive, and long processes. It also allows for the preservation of old pieces of work, since some molding techniques could be responsible for damaging a piece. Unique ways to use 3D printing allows for creativity to become endless. A creative invention, called a 3D photo booth, generates 3D selfies from 2D pictures of the clients; they are essentially small figurines of oneself. The process of 3D printing is allowing the creative industry to continue to advance in ways that once offered no solutions. Research and educational purposes have proven worthy of 3D printing technology. Additive manufacturing is the latest technology found in classrooms today, especially in college. 3D printing allows students to create prototypes of items for projects, or models for an experiment, etc. For example, a student at the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences 3D printed a prosthetic hand for a research project. The fact that a public school is able to provide students with 3D printing technology shows how vital this technology is in today’s world. The classroom setting allows students to learn the new technology, and since it is so new, allows students the chance to continue to help with the development of this technology. It is primarily used in STEM majors, specifically engineering. As a student during this time, this technology allows for a more interactive education than what was once offered to students in the past with the same major. One day, 3D printing may be responsible for the production of lab equipment. The final important industry that is impacted is the medical industry. Surgical use of 3D-printed materials has been prevalent in the world since about the mid-90s for reconstructive surgery and continues to advance to the point of producing parts for implant into the body. 3D-printed models of organs are printed and utilized to practice before surgeries; this gives a more realistic attempt before the actual surgery. Implants have become customizable, which ensures that they fit perfectly within the patient, which decreases the chance of one ending up on the TV show Botched. This is steadily gaining traction in hospitals, and many wish to add this technology to their establishment because of the great benefits. 3D-printing technology allows to make a difficult job easier with advancements in practice, such as organ replication, and perfectionism. There is an advanced form of 3D-printing in the medical industry called bioprinting. Bioprinting is an extension of 3D printing that allows biomaterials to combine and create tissue-like structures. It could be used to artificially create human skin, tissue and internal organs (Mischa). Similar to above, this allows medical students, and even medical professionals, to realistically practice surgeries before it comes down to attempting to save a person’s life. Although it is a new procedure and in the early stages, it could potentially be the next big thing that advances the medical industry to the next level. 3D printing technology shows that it is usable in numerous industries within the world today and will continue to advance and create a more efficient world. Many people attempted to produce this technology, but only one man is responsible for its birth, Charles Hull. Not only did Hull patent stereolithography, but he started a company, 3D Systems as well. After the birth of stereolithography, two other similar processes, FDM and SLS were patented next. These three processes work together today to create a more efficient production of goods. It effected many industries, including manufacturing, industrial, social/cultural, and medical. Altogether, 3D printing is continuously advancing every day and will eventually be a necessity for everyday life applications.