Additive manufacturing--more commonly known as 3-D printing--is not just for geeks anymore. A variety of options are making this process accessible to everyone, and what can be created has gone way beyond plastic tchotchkes. Whether sustainable, flexible or edible, made of ceramic, metal, fabric or sugar, products made using the technology open up countless opportunities for designers and new types of businesses. It's easier than ever to get your product from idea to finished item, or to promote your business with a uniquely branded object you've created yourself.
New materials like bioFila from German company twoBEars can be used in standard 3-D printers to create products with cloth-like textures that are made from sustainable sources.
Thingiverse's Zigzag vase was printed with bioFila linen; a lampshade was printed with bioFila silk.
If you simply want a taste, 3D Systems' Cubify marketplace is selling printed products such as rainbow-colored, apple-flavored sour candies in an array of complicated shapes.
This technology has already had business applications; Ford used a ChefJet prototype to print limited-edition chocolate cars to promote the launch of the 2015 Mustang.