By now, many of us have heard about 3D printing and how it's changing the way businesses innovate and make their products. And the industry shows no signs of slowing down.

Last year, I dabbled in 3D printing product creation for my e-commerce store and was impressed on how far the barriers have dropped for business owners like myself to implement and use the technology. By creating something as simple as image files, I could create my own cookie cutters that were printed on demand.

Estimates place the American 3D printing industry market size at 14.2 billion dollars in 2019, growing an average of 2 billion dollars every year And according to 3D printing service Sculpteo's annual survey, 76 percent of businesses polled expected to increase their spending on 3D printing anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent in 2018.

Want to get in on the action? Here are three ways that you can use 3D printing in your business.

1. Create never before seen products.

Today, 3D printing can be used to create practically any shape or design. And with a wealth of materials used in 3D printing, including metals like gold and stainless steel, businesses can create more durable and aesthetically-pleasing products than what was previously possible.

According to Sculpteo's survey, most businesses said their top priority for 3D printing was "accelerating product development." The technology allows you to quickly iterate designs at a low cost to create new products for your business.

What gaping holes still exist in your market? Your business could be the first to fill them, quickly and easily with 3D printing.

2. Pioneer new experieinces. 

Yes, 3D printing can be used for more than just making plastic parts.

In December 2018, Bulleit Frontier Whiskey unveiled the world's first 3D-printed bar for a new experience that will travel across the US this year.

But the bar wasn't the most innovative use of the technology by Bulleit. The whiskey brand took it a step further by 3D printing creative shapes into guests' cocktails with flavored liquid. (Imagine a pointillist Eiffel Tower inside your drink.)

Bullet described the experience as one that "will give artists, bartenders, and creators a place to collaborate, celebrate -- and push the boundaries of craft, technology, art, culture, and gastronomy."

With a bit of creative thinking, you can find a way to use 3D printing in an innovative way that will make waves in your industry.

3. Provide 3D printing as a service. 

There's a huge business opportunity in creating 3D printing opportunities for others. Coworking spaces across the world are now adding 3D printers for their users. And professional 3D printers like Shapeways, Sculpteo, and Voodoo are cropping up to meet the unstoppable demand of this 14-billion-dollar-and-growing industry.

3D print-on-demand services like the ones above give entrepreneurs the ability to upload their digital designs and set up an automatic system where products are printed and shipped as soon as an order comes in. Not only does this mean no wasted inventory if a product doesn't sell, but it also means no risk to a fledgling business venture.

The market for these types of services doesn't seem to be saturated yet, so enabling fellow entrepreneurs to 3D print their own products is a great way to utilize the technology in your business.

Published on: Jan 23, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.