“So… What is 3D printing actually used for? - Who even uses it?”
Good questions. I faced a lot of these questions when I worked with 3D printers in college. Regardless of the amount of awesome phone cases or accessories I would show to people, it always turned out that sorority girls didn’t find manufacturing as cool as I did.
Something I learned about this kind of technology is it is a very broad technology – meaning, it can be used for a nearly limitless amount of applications. Unfortunately, the human brain doesn’t tend to think in those terms. We like to put things in a metaphorical box and say “OK, I get this, this thing does this task, and I now understand this thing.” With 3D Printing (3DP), this simply is not the case.
Off the same machine, you can make a part for your car, a keychain, a bottle-opener, a keychain that is a bottle-opener – like I said… limitless.
With the help of mainstream printer manufacturers like MakerBot and XYZprinting, there are now thousands of people using this technology. Users range from high-end, large volume manufacturers, like Nestle Nespresso (coffee) and Sheppard Air Force Base (military UAVs), to the starry-eyed would-be Iron Man working out of his garage.