Many Additive Manufacturing experts argue that the big gains - and money - are in the creation and application of new materials. 

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a graduate-level university based in Abu Dhabi, has just filed a patent for 3D-printed ultra lightweight materials developed by their researchers. By manipulating the chemical and internal geometric structure of metals and plastics, engineers are now able to optimize conductivity, weight, stiffness and other factors. The Masdar Institute, which focuses on development of advanced energy and sustainable technologies, intends to apply its methods of material design to target the specific products that makers want developed. This technology greatly expands the possibilities for how products are developed and optimized.