3-d printing is offering revolutions in a number of fields, and to say that this is only the tip of the iceberg is surely a massive understatement. To illustrate the point, here are some record-breaking structures recently built in china:
And another printer using a similar principle that can build strong structures anywhere on earth using nothing but mud and local natural fibres to help people in the poorest parts of the world.
Then there are a pair of autonomous robots that will soon be 3-d printing a steel footbridge under themselves across a river in Amsterdam, acting as something of a robotic performance piece as they go.
We will need to be able to flexibly utilise local materials if we ever want to consider colonising other worlds, considering the enormous expenses of transporting mass across the vast distances of space, and we already have plans in place to 3d-print buildings on the moon.
The possibilities are truly staggering. We science fiction writers really have our work cut out to push the boundaries of what we will soon be capable of and fire the imaginations of the next generation of engineers.