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The History of 3D Printing

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Many people think 3D printing has only been developed in the last few years. It didn't become accessible for most people until recently, but the reality is that it's been around in one form or another since 1984.

Hideo Kodama first wrote about the concept in 1981. The idea was the essence of 3D printing. A solid, usable item could be built by layers. The building process would be interpreted and carried out by a machine via whatever design you plugged into it.

Charles Hull made this a reality in 1984. He invented stereolithography. The key to both Kodama's and Hull's processes was photopolymers. These are materials that are liquid until hit with a UV laser, at which point the portions exposed to the laser turn solid.

Stereolithography allowed inventors to prototype a design without investing in molds and manufacturing costs. Hull's company would invent selective laser sintering (or SLS) in 1992. This used a powder instead of a liquid. The parts that could be created via stereolithography were becoming more and more complex.

In fact, by 1999 the first 3D printed organ was transplanted to a human being. The organ was made from synthetic material, but coated with the cells of the patient – meaning the body wouldn't reject it.

As 3D printing became more affordable, it became more accessible. Now, consumers could buy 3D printers and realize their own designs. A DIY movement sprung up around 3D printing as creators shared designs online and helped each other learn the craft.

In the meantime, the commercial side was progressing at a rapid rate. 3D printers could make prostheses, drones, some could even replicate themselves. The industrial side meant that architecture could be realized rapidly and even other, complex machines could be made quickly.

We focus on everything from custom 3D printing order to production runs, so we can handle many different capabilities. We can even reverse engineer a part for 3D printing, Create your 3D Model Design, deliver a 3D sculpture, or push an affordable production run out the door for you. 3D printing is in its fourth decade of work and design. What we can create is limited only by your imagination.

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