In 1983, when Chuck Hull was spending nights and weekends building the first 3D printer, he couldn’t have imagined that someone would eventually use the apparatus to build a toaster from ashes.

For an invention that began as a prototyping tool, the 3D printer has come a long way. Today’s additive-manufacturing technologies can create living tissue, houses, and even, yes, an artist's take on an everyday kitchen appliance .

New on this week, we feature interviews with 3D-printing industry analyst Terry Wohlers and the creator of the 3D printer himself Chuck Hull.

Since Hull invented the "Stereolithography Apparatus" in the 1980s, users have found hundreds of applications — toasters aside — beyond what the inventor initially envisioned. There are two areas, however, that excite the 3D-printing pioneer: Healthcare and Production. Read the Q&A with Chuck Hull: How 3D Printing Began, Layer by Layer.

Terry Wohlers, president of the independent consulting firm Wohlers Associates, Inc., says the "next frontier" for 3D printing will be using the technology for actual manufacturing and production quantities — not just prototyping. In a Tech Briefs interview this week, the author of the recently published 2017 Wohlers Report  revealed "bleeding-edge" examples for 3D printing, including shape-conforming electronics. Read the interview with Terry Wohlers: The 3D Printing Landscape.

What do you think? Given all the 3D printing applications possible today, which ones are most exciting to you? Send us your comments below.

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