Who Invented 3D Printing?

Who Invented 3D Printing?
Who Invented 3D Printing?

A few years ago, the 3D printing craze started, greatly capturing the public’s interest. The media was instrumental in making “3D printing” the most recent buzzword in technical advancement. 

They started to often show off the full potential of this interesting sector. Since that time, 3D printing has swept the nation, especially with the launch of easy-to-use 3D design softwre. People adore the concept of being able to design any type of personalized product whenever they need it. Nevertheless, 3D printing has been around for some time despite this new boom. 

That’s for sure; it’s been around for a lot longer than most people think. This guide’s objective is to take you through a thorough history from its inventor to everything that you need to know about 3D printing.

Who Invented 3D Printing?

A man using a 3D printer. Image source: USDA

Stereolithography, the first commercially available fast prototyping method that gave rise to 3D printing, was created by Charles Hull. 

The original 3D printing uses were in tool rooms and research and development laboratories, but today there are countless possibilities for this technology. The process has been applied to produce everything from artwork, musical instruments, apparel, and sports shoes to aircraft parts, prosthetic limbs, and sports shoes.

Hull originally had the concept for 3D printing while working on lamps for UV-curable polymers. His technique involves building up a photopolymer resin layer by layer and curing and bonding it using UV light. Hull co-founded 3D Systems in 1986 to market his work, which includes the STL file format for converting CAD software data for 3D printers. 

With a comprehensive line of professional and production 3D printers, cutting-edge software solutions, a wide range of materials, as well as user-friendly desktop 3D printers for the expanding hobby and entrepreneur industries, 3D Systems are still at the forefront of innovation today.

When 3D Printing First Became Popular

3D printed hand placed on a table. Image source: Bernard Marr

3D printing initially gained notoriety in the public sphere in the late 1980s. Several industries were involved in its early popularity. They like it because it allowed for the quick prototyping of commercial goods and ideas. It turned out to be efficient in terms of both time and money. Rapid prototyping technology has checked many boxes for many sectors, and it still does.

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Before it was fully developed, 3D printing had to go through a life cycle, just like any great breakthrough. For a variety of reasons, most good ideas never succeed, but some do.

The success of additive manufacturing (AM) technology is excellent news. From its beginning until the present, 3D printing will resemble the following

  • Stage of Infancy: 1981 to 1999
  • the formative years, from 1999 to 2010
  • From 2011 till the present, the adult stage

Some claim that the technology behind 3D printers is at its peak right now. Others will counter that we still have a long and interesting journey ahead of us. The latter group is probably right since the potential for the future is so great. Consider human body parts and 3D cuisine; everything is on the table.

A Leap of a Frog to FDM

The device that today’s majority of 3D printing hobbyists would recognize was created by S. Scott Crump. He came up with the concept of fused deposition modeling (FDM), which he tested out by using a hot glue gun to create a toy frog for his daughter.

Crump’s filament-based extrusion approach led to printers from Stratasys, the firm he founded, as well as later iterations from Prusa, Lulzbot, MakerBot, and Ultimaker, to mention a few, all of which were improved by computer control.

Additionally, Crump developed the breakaway and soluble supports that let FDM produce undercuts and hollow shapes.

Focus on Additive Manufacturing with a Laser

Laser based 3D printing process. Image source: Azom

Carl Deckard developed the concept of layer-by-layer layer sintering of powder using a laser while still a student at the University of Texas.

Because the unfused powder bed supports any freshly fused layers, selective laser sintering (SLS) can produce hollow components devoid of support. This is a characteristic that both SLS and its powder-based relative binder jetting share.

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The precise heating required for the sintering process is carried out by a strong laser, which warms the plastic powder to just below melting. This powerful laser is the reason why SLS has not yet become a popular hobbyist technology.

Adding Additional Materials and Methods

Although Hull’s patent covers a wide range of 3D printing-related topics, such as processes, software for design and operation, and a range of materials, other creators would expand on the idea in unique ways. 

Carl Deckard, a graduate student at the University of Texas, was given a patent for his selective laser sintering technique in 1989. With SLS, a layer of the product was created by using a laser beam to specifically bond powdered components, such as metal, together. 

Each new layer would be followed by the addition of fresh powder to the surface. Metal items are also created using other variants, such as direct metal laser sintering and selective laser melting.

Fused deposition modeling is the most well-known and identifiable type of 3D printing. The S. Scott Crump-developed FDP technique layers the material directly onto a platform. 

The substance, which is often a resin, is delivered through a nozzle and rapidly hardens after being released. Crump had the concept in 1988 while attempting to use a glue gun and candle wax to create a toy frog for his daughter.

Crump co-founded Stratasys Ltd. in 1989 to produce and market 3D printing equipment for quick prototyping or industrial manufacture after receiving the technology’s patent. In 1994, they went public with their business, and by 2003, FDP was the most popular rapid prototyping method.

1990-2010: Growth 

Numerous businesses and startups started to appear in the 1990s, experimenting with various additive manufacturing technologies. The first SLS printer that was made available for purchase in 2006 changed the way industrial parts could be manufactured on demand.

At this time, CAD tools also became more widely accessible, enabling users to create 3D models on their computers. In the first phases of making a 3D print, this is one of the most crucial tools.

Machines during this period were considerably unlike those we have today. They were costly and difficult to use, and many finished prints required extensive post-processing. However, discoveries, strategies, and techniques were being developed daily.

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Then, in 2005, the advent of open source altered the 3D printing landscape and increased public access to the technology. The RepRap Project was an open-source endeavor started by Dr Adrian Bowyer to produce a 3D printer that could also make additional 3D printers and other 3D printed products.

The first prosthetic limb was created in 2008, launching 3D printing into the spotlight and popularising the phrase among millions of people worldwide.

Then, in 2009, the 1980s-era FDM patents became public, changing the course of 3D printing history and paving the way for new ideas. As more businesses and competitors had access to the technology, 3D printer prices started to fall, and it became more and more affordable.

Where Are We Now with 3D Printing in the Present?

3D printer printing a 3D tower. Image source: iPleaders

The cost of 3D printers began to decrease in the 2010s, making them accessible to the general population. The cost of printing has decreased, and the quality and simplicity of printing have also improved.

Additionally, the materials used by printers have changed. Today, a large range of polymers and filaments are commercially accessible. It’s possible to print 3D models of materials like carbon fiber and glass fiber. Even printing on chocolate or pasta is being tried out by certain artists!

Always, just when you think things can’t get any better, they do. This seems to be the case with 3D printing, at least. The rate of advancement is so rapid and so ground-breaking that it won’t be long until the last section of this guide is no longer relevant. Sincerely, there are moments when keeping up is impossible. It won’t be long until we’re all 3D manufacturing our unique components as and when we need them.

So what comes next? We can all agree that there will be more history of 3D printing to be written in the future, but none can say for sure. The only restrictions at this moment, it would appear, are those imposed by human imagination. There won’t be any “WOW” element if we continue in this manner. That may be the one drawback for those of us who enjoy a good surprise.

Michelle Gram Smith
Michelle Gram Smith is an owner of www.parentsmaster.com and loves to create informational content masterpieces to spread awareness among the people related to different topics. Also provide creating premium backlinks on different sites such as Heatcaster.com, Sthint.com, Techbigis.com, Filmdaily.co and many more. To avail all sites mail us at parentsmaster2019@gmail.com.