Article : 10 What is the History of 3D Printing

3D printing as previously stated is a method of converting digital data into three-dimensional physical objects. The process has to go through additive procedures before creating a 3D object. 3D printers have been among the gradually evolving machines. Today, it is normal to see 3D printers producing nearly anything from shoes, human organs, accessories and even toys. Anything is possible with 3D printing.

Who really came up with the idea of 3D Printing?

The person who started the idea of 3D printing is known as Charles Hull, also the co-founder of 3D Systems. He was the one who invented stereolithography. This is a process where digital data is sent to produce a physical 3D object.

What are the different technologies in 3D Printing?

  • Stereolithography (SLA) is the first 3D printing method in the history of 3D printing. It is the oldest method but it is still used by the current industrial 3D printers. It is a method whereby a software comes up with the CAD model. It then generates the STL which has information for each and every layer.
  • Digital Light Processing is another method and is similar to Stereolithography. It was created in the year 1987. It is highly known in commercial 3D printers. Projectors and cell phones also apply this method. The DLP method makes use of digital micro mirrors that are layered out on a semiconductor chip.
  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the most popular method in 3D printing. With FDM, you can build concept model using engineering-grade thermoplastic. Industrial 3D printers using the FDM technology are very simple to use and can be used to create very composite geometries and cavities. FDM process is also very environmental-friendly.
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a technology that uses a laser to create 3D objects. The technology was discovered in the year 1980. SLS is a bit similar to SLA but instead of using liquid resin, it uses powdered material. SLS is popularly known for customizing 3D objects due to its wide variety of materials such as nylon, ceramics, steel, aluminium and silver.
  • Selective laser melting (SLM) is a method that also uses CAD data. It uses high-power laser beam that infuses and melts metallic powders in order to create a 3D object. This technology is mostly applied in objects that have complex geometries and structures having thin walls and hidden channels.
  • Electronic Beam Melting (EBM) is an additive manufacturing method which is similar to SLM. It also uses a powder bed fusion process but uses electron beam as its power source. It is a bit expensive and slow when compared to SLM. It mostly deals with aerospace and medical implants.
  • Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) is a method where heating and pressure is used to mix layers of adhesive-coated plastic, metal or paper laminates. This kind of technology starts with a CAD file and later changed into n STL. This method is one of the most cost-friendly and also the fastest.