Some emerging technological trends directly and concretely affect how data centers operate today. Others are on the periphery of data center resources, but have such wide-ranging implications as to belong on every technologist's mind. The 3-D printing trend falls under the latter category.
3-D printing isn't new, but the generation of 3-D printers that support consumer and enterprise manufacturing tasks on a nearly on-demand basis is new. 3-D printing has come into its own, thanks to constant improvements to printing technology and a vast expansion in the range of printable materials.
David W. Cearley of Gartner points to some uses of the 3-D printing trend: creating new aerospace components, repairing worn mechanical parts in the field without carrying spare parts, creating custom prosthetic devices (like hearing aids or artificial limbs) as needed, and myriad other practical tasks.
3-D bioprinting is also emerging, allowing a printer to print skin tissue, heart tissue, blood vessels and other basic tissues for surgery and transplantation.