Three-dimensional printing is gaining traction in both the business realm and among consumers, but there is still some confusion about how these machines work and what exactly the printers can build.
While lots of attention has been focused on 3-D printers and printing off weapons, the fact is the machines are capable of fabricating a variety of products—from gadgets and clothing to human tissue. One 3-D printing company even printed off a concrete house.
(Read More: DIY Weapons: Start-Up Aims to Grow 3-D Gun Printing)
In 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, a product is created layer by layer. The printer uses a blueprint of a digital model to make the item one layer at a time. Printers have been designed to use different materials—including plastic, ceramic, silver, steel, concrete and even stem cells— to make products.
Here's a look at how four companies are using the technology to create the future.