- Smart cities and 3D printing technologies are attracting unprecedented attention with signs that they will be key drivers of societal and economic change. Yet, the connection in how 3D printing can enhance smart cities remains understudied. To this end, this paper argues that 3D printing has widespread applications across higher education and smart city settings through the opening and democratizing of innovation. Accordingly, several examples of recent 3D printing developments and smart city advancements are presented. However, higher education institutions (HEIs) must also be mindful of the social, ethical, and legal challenges involved with 3D printing research, integration, and democratization. Reflecting on the Triple Helix Model of university-industry-government relationships, this paper concludes that HEIs should take the lead for 3D printing and smart city collaborations. It is only through this leadership that 3D printing’s positive uses will prevail over the potential pitfalls that this disruptive technology is capable of.