When 3D printing was first invented, the uses and applications of this new technology were not fully appreciated. Like with any technology when first developed, it was seen as a bit gimmicky: this is great but what can you do with it (other than make impressive looking structures!)?
Now that the technology has had time to mature, with better materials and techniques, these uses and applications are becoming apparent. As I looked at in a previous post about one technology inspiring another, 3D printing is now looking to other fields for inspiration.
In particular, molecular engineering is being used to take structures in nature (e.g. honeycombs) which could be used in large scale engineering, such as aerospace and construction. Such technologies are able to transform conventional industries to improve both the performance and safety of the structures around us.
The use of the molecular science and engineering approach can also help overcome some of the challenges and allow more-effective translation of research into industrial applications.