image courtesy of: hp store

The day when robots start to rule in place of humans seems to be closer upon us with each passing day.  With voice activated AI ordering our sundry’s, waking us up, and entertaining us, we are slowly becoming the robots.  Machines once took jobs from humans in the manufacturing field and one day, printers may replace machines.  This is evident when reading or watching the news stories that are slowly introducing us to 3D printing.  While this groundbreaking technology may seem relatively new, the truth is it has been around for about 40 years.  Remember the 3D printer in Star Trek?  How about in Fifth Element?  There, printers could produce weapons, armor, meals, and even skin and bone.  In Jurassic Park III, the scientists who can never quite understand how dangerous dinosaurs are, use a 3D printer to make a replica of a raptors’ resonating chamber, allowing them to communicate with the fierce animals.  If you have seen Harry Potter then you have seen a product of a 3D printer.  The spiders creeping and crawling out of the forest attempting to harm Harry and the gang were actually produced by a 3D printer.  Interesting huh?  So what exactly is it and how long has it been around?

Since this is an overview on the process, we won’t bore you with the latest advances in the technology.  However, it is interesting to note that CNN recently ran a story about how Saudi Arabia is using 3D printers to construct buildings.  They also have a great interactive article regarding 3D printing that you can view here:http://edition.cnn.com/TECH/specials/make-create-innovate/3d-printing/.  It is definitely worth a look.  We must apologize for getting ahead of ourselves with this topic.  Allow us to backtrack.  Today, you will learn what 3D printing is the history of its evolution.  To define 3D printing in the techiest way possible, we turn to techterms.com.  There, they define 3D printing as, “A 3D printer is a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) device that creates three-dimensional objects. Like a traditional printer, a 3D printer receives digital data from a computer as input. However, instead of printing the output on paper, a 3D printer builds a three-dimensional model out of a custom material.” They do this by using, “A process called additive manufacturing to form (or “print”) physical objects layer by layer until the model is complete. This is different than subtractive manufacturing, in which a machine reshapes or removes material from an existing mold. Since 3D printers create models from scratch, they are more efficient and produce less waste than subtractive manufacturing devices.”  I understand if you are still confused.  Imagine a robotic arm in a metallic box making material out of thin air.  That is what one form of this printer looks like.  Here is an picture of an early 3D printer model…

Doesn’t that look fantastic?  Talk about looking futuristic.  At first glance it looks like a broken popcorn machine.  The font of the print on the device may give you some clue to when it was first created, the 1980’s.  Below you will find a timeline on the creation and advancements of 3D printing technology.  In the weeks to come, we will try to post some interesting articles on this amazing technological printer. 

1980: first patent by japanese Dr Kodama Rapid prototyping

1984: Stereolithography by french then abandoned

1986: Stereolithography taken up by Charles Hull

1987: First SLA-1 machine

1988: first SLS machine by DTM Inc then buy by 3D system

1990: First EOS Stereos system

1992: FDM patent to Stratasys

1993: Solidscape was founded

1995: Z Corporation obtained an exclusive license from the MIT

1999: Engineered organs bring new advances to medicine

2000: a 3D printed working kidney is created

2000: MCP Technologies (an established vacuum casting OEM) introduced the SLM technology

2005: Z Corp.  launched Spectrum Z510. It was the first high-definition color 3D Printer on the market.

2006: An open source project is initiated (Reprap)

2008: The first 3D printed prosthetic leg

2009: FDM patents in the public domain

2009: Sculpteo is created

2010: Urbee is the first 3D printed prototype car presented

2011: Cornell University began to build 3D food printer.

2012: The first prosthetic jaw is printed and implanted

2013: “3D printing” in Obama’s State of the Union speech

2015: Carbon 3D issues their revolutionary ultra-fast CLIP 3D printing machine

2016: Daniel Kelly’s lab announces being able to 3D print bone

https://www.sculpteo.com/blog/2016/12/14/the-history-of-3d-printing-3d-printing-technologies-from-the-80s-to-today/

Image source: https://www.ipoint-systems.com/blog/first-lca-on-3d-printer-sustainability-green-manufacturing-revolution-or-overrated-gadget/

Source: https://all3dp.com/2/3d-printing-movies-when-3d-printers-steal-the-spotlight/

Timeline source: https://www.sculpteo.com/blog/2016/12/14/the-history-of-3d-printing-3d-printing-technologies-from-the-80s-to-today/