In recent years the technology of 3D printing has garnered greater interest and funding from a number of manufacturers. It has become more cost-effective, advanced by new designs which have enabled breakthroughs like the colour desktop 3D printer. But where did it all begin? In this post, we delve into the history of 3D printing.
The history of 3D printing: the beginning
In 1981, an intellectual at the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute presented the world with a glimpse of the future. It was here that Hideo Kodama delivered his account of a functional rapid prototyping system, using polymers to create models. He was laying the groundwork for the future technology of 3D printing.
In 1984, Charles Hull furthered the field with the invention of stereolithography, which would allow for full 3D-printed designs to be developed. In 1988, Carl Deckard of the University of Texas brought a patent for the SLS technology, a different but integral 3D-printing technique. In the same year, Scott Crump filed a patent for Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), the third component required for 3D printing to be born.
In 1992, the first stereolithographic apparatus was created by the tech company 3D Systems. The machine could be used to create 3D objects using a layering system, typical of the 3D printing systems still used today. The machine was the first of its kind and would serve as the first example of a modern 3D printer. Advancements were made, with new printers later being developed that demonstrated superior speed, power and manufacturing abilities.
New milestones in 3D printing
Following on from the first designs and the first use of the technology, 3D printing soon began to be used in a variety of fields with impressive results. In 1999, the first 3D printed organ was designed and developed by a scientific team at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative online pharmacy Medicine. The team developed the organ using the patient’s cells and a synthetic material ensuring that the organ was accepted by the body, rather than rejected.
The production of the first selective laser sintering machine
2006 saw the production of the first selective laser sintering machine. All That 3D explores the implications of this development below:
“The first SLS (selective laser sintering) machine was produced [in 2006]. SLS machine uses a laser to fuse materials and build 3D products. This development paved the way for mass customization and on-demand manufacturing of industrial parts and prostheses. In the same year, a machine capable of printing multiple materials, including elastomers and polymers was created. The said machine also permits a single part to be made with different densities or material properties.”
3D printing: where are we now?
3D printing has had a long and interesting history and promises many new exciting developments in the future.