The first documented iterations of 3D printing date back to the early 1980s in Japan. He came up with a layer-by-layer approach to manufacturing, using a photosensitive resin that polymerized with ultraviolet light. The first 3D printer, which used the stereolithography technique, was created by Charles W. Stereolithography has traditionally been an expensive commercial technique, with machines costing five and even six figures, but recent years have seen the emergence of professional desktop stereolithography printers with a cost of a few thousand dollars, as well as consumer systems that start with much less than a thousand dollars.
Desktop Metal's Production System 3D metal printer, its most expensive and premium printer, uses a new type of binder injection technology called single-pass injection. Scott Crump co-founded Stratasys in 1989 and filed a patent for Fused Deposition Modeling, probably the best-known 3D printing technology today. This was managed in a new 3D bioprinter that showed significant promise for the future creation of whole organs, such as the kidneys and heart. This appears to be the first patent to describe 3D printing with rapid prototyping and controlled on-demand pattern manufacturing.
With 3D printing, designers have the ability to quickly turn concepts into 3D models or prototypes (a). Doctors and medical technicians can use 3D printing to make prostheses, hearing aids, artificial teeth, and bone grafts, as well as to replicate models of organs, tumors, and other internal organ structures from CT scans in preparation for surgery. But from a technological perspective, 3D printing is a consequence of traditional printing, in which a layer of material (usually ink) is applied. This demonstrated that inexpensive 3D printers could be made and that most parts of the 3D printer could be 3D printed with another printer.
But while all of these companies focused on 3D printing for manufacturing, others saw it as the solution to the growing housing crisis. It was an instant success, winning many awards for the best 3D printer and consolidating Ultimaker as a key player in the industry, while maintaining its commitment to the open source philosophy. A prototype of the VIC 3D printer for this company is available with a video presentation showing a 3D model printed with a single inkjet nozzle. In Europe, EOS GmbH was founded and created the first EOS “Stereos” system for industrial prototypes and 3D printing production applications.
Although the original patents for stereolithography had expired more than five years before, no one had been able to create an affordable SLA 3D printer. However, satisfactory printing according to the invention has been achieved with the conductive metal alloy as ink. Some desktop 3D printers are inexpensive today and can fit on your desk or in a microwave-sized corner of your kitchen. But unlike inkjet printing, few of us create 3D models and print on these incredible machines at home.
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