The Digital Manufacturing Blog

Bringing you the latest trends and best practices in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, injection molding and CNC machining.

3D Printing History

This month, our company turns 18. Throughout this time, we have seen the 3D printing industry jump leaps and bounds. We thought that this would be a good time to highlight some of the major advancements in the industry’s 30 year existence.

-The first 3D Printer was created in 1984 by 3D Systems. The initial process was known as stereolithography (SLA). This process uses UV Lasers to cure photopolymer resins layer by layer.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) was developed and patented at the University of Texas at Austin. SLS is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser to sinter powdered material into a solid structure. The laser sintering technique has also expanded to include metal. This process is known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).

-In 1990, Strayasys developed the plastic extrusion technology Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).  FDM is an additive manufacturing process where plastic filament is extruded from a coil of material that builds parts layer by layer.

-As of 2012, the market for 3D printers and services was worth $2.2 billion worldwide.

These are some the major processes that helped build the foundation for the 3D printing and additive manufacturing. Since this time, machines and materials have expanded beyond hard plastics to include rubber and metal. Machines and materials are more readily available. Industries that utilize 3D printing are as far reaching as ever which include architecture, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military & defense, medical, biotechnology, fashion, jewelry, food, consumer goods, and many others.

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