AI Breathes Life Back Into 3D Printing

by Karen Riccio
By Karen Riccio

I think it’s safe to say that AI has moved on from the hype stage now that its novelty has normalized.

But its worthiness as an investment is as bright as can be — and breathing life back into another technology in need of a boost — 3D printing. 

Just having AI is no longer a wow factor. Market demand has shifted from fast adoption to quality, which needs to come from the most innovative and forward-thinking individuals and companies. 

I mean, anyone with a smartphone can make movies but not like Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese.

So, let’s not talk about the Apples, Googles and Microsofts of the mega-tech world releasing their versions of ChatGPT-like tools. Let’s look at real innovation … and solutions to real-world problems? 

That brings me back to an older technology that lost its luster over the years …

Once Thought Dead,
AI Has Revived 3D Printing

It’s not making big headlines, like it once did. But the one-two punch of AI and 3D printing is a truly powerful combination. And it is already reviving a once-thought-dead industry.

3D printing has been around for several years now. You have probably even seen one in action. 

Unfortunately, challenges of inefficiencies, high costs and lack of accuracy through the years derailed the industry — enough that the technology faded from the mainstream’s memory.

Thanks to AI, though, it’s back in a big way. That’s in terms of innovation AND as an investment-worthy industry.

According to Market.us Scoop, the global AI in 3D printing market is projected to reach $34.8 billion by 2033. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.5% from 2024 — due largely to the emergence of AI as a complementary technology.

Source: Market.us. Click here to see full-sized image.

 

In a nutshell, AI’s contribution to 3D printing involves precision, speed and types of materials that can be used. It can — and already is — making a world of difference across a number of industries:

  • Aerospace, defense and automotive industries — Allows for the production of complex, lightweight components to reduce overall weight of automobiles and aircraft, as well as improve fuel efficiency and performance.
  • Consumer products and electronics — Customizes everything from gadgets to wearables that conform to individual aesthetic or functional preferences.
  • Building and construction — Creates buildings and infrastructure faster and wastes less materials. This includes actually printing complex architectural forms or entire structures.

Here in California, a first of a kind, 3D-printed ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) made of concrete and other fire-resistant materials went up recently in Walnut. 

It took just 20 days to build using contractor RIC Technology’s robotic 3D printer (see below).

Click here to see full-sized image.

 

The city of San Diego and others are also building ADU apartments to thwart homelessness and combat unaffordability in cities.

ADUs — also referred to as granny flats, in-law units and backyard cottages — are secondary units with their own bathrooms and kitchens that provide independent living.

But there’s another industry that is even more exciting to smart investors …

AI & 3D Printing 
Brings Spark to Healthcare

The medical community is already combining these two technologies. And for me, this really hit home.

Generally speaking,healthcare professionals are now able to customize prosthetics and implants using patient-specific data from imaging to design … to printing personalized devices quickly and efficiently.

The Mayo Clinic, one of the largest health centers, began 3D printing about 17 years ago focusing on models for surgical planning. The application of AI is now allowing the centers to:

  • Treat burn victims — AI helps determine the optimal structure and placement of different cell types to promote healing.
  • Create arteries and heart valves — AI models show how the structures will interact with human tissue and blood flow before implantation.
  • Customize bone implants — AI generates customized implants based on CT scans that promote bone regeneration.

Additionally, thousands of 3D-printed hips, knees and shoulders are used during replacement surgeries worldwide annually.

My first-hand experience with one of the fastest-growing applications in the medical world began a couple of months ago in a dentist’s office.

I was there for a consultation about possibly upgrading from clunky partial dentures to dental implants.

About six years ago, I endured a very long and painful process to treat some dental issues stemming from an early age. 

It took about a year from start to finish before receiving the first of many ill-fitting, painful prosthetics. Even back then, I couldn’t believe how primitive dental practices remained.

Fast forward to 2024, and my new dentist took full advantage of the advanced technology accessible to him. 

It literally took me the better part of one day to undergo the proper surgery, get fitted for my new teeth and leave the office with a great smile … just like they say in the commercials.

I give all the credit to AI for the part it played in my custom fitted teeth — without a doubt, the biggest differentiator in terms of quality. 

The way it works is that AI algorithms analyze 3D scans of a patient's mouth and create a precise surgical guide for implant placement.

This ensures that the implants are in the right position, taking bone density, nerve location and bite into consideration.

All in all, AI and 3D printing combine to give folks like me a better quality of life —and great investments opportunities to all of us.

I like Stryker (SYK), and so does Weiss. 

This “B-”-rated stock actually operates as a medical technology company. It recently reported that it has printed more than 1 million Tritanium (its brand for 3D products) cementless knee replacements since 2013.

As a big fan of dental implants and the people behind them, I’d also consider these two leaders: Align Technology (ALGN) and Henry Schein (HSIC)

These are both officially rated as “holds.” So, they are a bit more speculative … but offer just as much upside considering the growth potential of this development.

Finally, as I’m sure you know by now, this very broad investment landscape also includes those companies that AI cannot exist without: Nvidia (NVDA), the firms that partner with the chipmaker and others trying to make a name for themselves in AI.

In fact, there is another even bigger development in this space. Nvidia just hinted at a “$1 Trillion AI Pivot.” I urge you to watch this new video today.

Until next time,

Karen Riccio

About the Senior Investment Writer

Karen Riccio has 20+ years’ experience as a journalist, writer and editor in the financial industry.

Top Tech Stocks
See All »
B
AAPL NASDAQ $224.29
B
MSFT NASDAQ $436.23
B
NVDA NASDAQ $117.99
Top Consumer Staple Stocks
See All »
B
WMT NYSE $70.76
Top Financial Stocks
See All »
B
B
BRKA NYSE $653,354.72
B
JPM NYSE $210.32
Top Energy Stocks
See All »
B
B
CVX NYSE $160.66
B
COP NYSE $115.19
Top Health Care Stocks
See All »
Top Real Estate Stocks
See All »
Weiss Ratings