The Economist has dubbed 3D printing the “third industrial revolution,” given the breakthroughs that the technology will enable – in manufacturing, construction, medicine, nutrition, and many other fields. While 3D printing dates originally to the 1980s, rapid advances in technology in recent years have given rise to a spate of new, game-changing applications – and as with so many other innovations, Israel is on the cutting edge of the 3D printing boom.
By some estimates, the Startup Nation manufactures about 40 percent of all 3D printers worldwide, but Israel is best known for the ingenious applications it’s finding for 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing. As with other high-tech sectors, Israel’s 3D printing industry has flourished thanks to the confluence of world-class academic research, entrepreneurial spirit, and substantial public-private investments in R&D.
In 2015, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem launched The 3D and Functional Printing Center, the first such institute to be established in Israel. The center serves as a hub for Hebrew University researchers working on a range of 3D printing technologies and applications, from robotics to solar cells to military and medical equipment. Scientists at the university recently unveiled a new platform for complex, 3D-printed medicine, delivered through hydrogels into which medication is inserted. The pills are able to expand, change shape, and can even be programmed to activate at a set time – a promising new step on the path toward personalized, patient-centered medicine. Researchers at the center are also pioneering other novel applications in the health field, including 3D printing of artificial organs.
What else is happening on the Israeli 3D printing scene? Here’s a glance at how just a few innovative Israeli companies are taking the technology to the next level:
Few could have foreseen an era in which medical devices, pharmaceuticals, solar panels, and even homes could be printed. But true to character, Israel’s scientists and technological visionaries have not only prepared the country for this future, but are helping chart its course. Israeli innovation may well be printable – but it can’t be copied.