3-D printers build an object by thinly layering materials such as plastic powder, metal or liquid resin, following instructions from a computer-drawn blueprint. They are used to make components including car parts and surgical implants. GE’s fuel nozzles made using 3D printing are the best known example of the use of the technology in the industry, but airplane makers Boeing and Airbus are also working on the process. Airbus is starting to incorporate 3D-designed parts on a test basis and says plane content produced with the technology will grow substantially in the coming years.

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. What are the advantages of 3D printing of parts?
  2. Describe the current status of 3D printers for business and personal use.