3D Printing

The history of 3D printing dates back to at least 1920 by Baker (US patent, 1,533,300) who used an electric arc and metal electrode to form walled structures and decorative articles. 

Today direct energy deposition (DED) techniques such as direct metal deposition (DMD) and laser energy net shaping (LENS) are based on similar ideas, but integrate the layered manufacturing concepts to create parts directly from computer-aided design (CAD) data. However, the concept of layered manufacturing finds its roots from two different technologies that started in the 19th century: topography and photosculpture

A typical decorative article as described by Baker’s 1920 patent

The 1980s: Birth of the main 3D Printing Techniques

The concept of 3D printing has been old idea, but first real experiments are dated from 1981. 

The first 3D printing attempts are granted to Dr. Kodama and his ideas for rapid prototyping techniques. He was the first to describe a layer by layer approach for manufacturing. 

He created the "grandfather" of SLA (or Stereolithography): a photosensitive resin is hardened with UV light. 

Commercial 3D Printing started with the introduction of stereolithography (SLA) and the formation of 3D Systems Corp. in 1987. 

In 1892 Blanther patented a technique for making a mold for topographical relief maps using impressions of topographical contour lines on a series of wax plates, cutting these wax plates on these lines and stacking them to create a raised relief map of paper.

In 1972 Matsubara proposed a process using photopolymer resin coated onto graphite powder/sand, spread into a layer, select areas of the layer heated and hardened using a mercury vapor lamp and the remaining area dissolved to create sheets with defined geometry, which were then stacked together to form a casting mold.

In 1974 utilizing a similar stacking technique, DiMatteo produced three dimensional shapes from contour milled metallic sheets that were then joined in layered fashion by adhesion, bolts, or tapered rods. 

In 1980 First patent by japanese Dr Kodama Rapid prototyping

In 1988 First SLA-1 (stereolitography) machine

In 1988 First commercial SLS machine by DTM Inc then buy by 3D system

This was followed by the formation of EOS GmbH in 1990, Stratasys in 1991, DTM Corp. in 1992, Fockele & Schwarze (F&S) in 1994, Z Corp in 1996, and subsequently many other companies started developments in this area.

While most of this effort was on polymeric materials, commercialization of metal printing started with DTM. In 1997 Swedish company Arcam AB was formed that used its patented electron beam melting (EBM) technology to produce titanium medical components.

Modern application of wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) and subsequent milling; material: titanium

The 1990s: 3D printers and CAD programs

In 1998 commercialization of Sandia National Laboratory developed laser engineered net shaping (LENS) by Optomec Inc. and University of Michigan developed DMD by POM Group. For economic reasons, early efforts on metal AM were focused on expensive parts and components, and the aerospace and medical industries were a natural fit. This resulted in a major focus on titanium and its alloys, besides other expensive alloys. The other application area of early metal printing was the tooling industry. The use of 3D printing allowed building of complex cooling channels in injection molding inserts that resulted in a substantial reduction in the cycle time and hence significant cost savings.

Overall we can say, that in less than ten years, the three main technologies of 3D printing were patented and 3D printing was born!

In 1990 all related to computers was really rapidly growing and developing! 

Big leap in 3D modeling was derived when first CAD programs were made - SolidEdge 1995 and Autodesk 1996 and many more!

At the same time, Sanders Prototype (now known as Solidscape), one of the first companies to develop specific tools for additive manufacturing (Slicer programs)

In 1992, the Fused Deposition Modeling patent was issued to Stratasys, which developed many 3D printers for both professionals and individuals. 

The 2000s: 3D printing for everyone

In 2000 the first 3D printed kidney was made! Nowadays 3D printed kidneys are working in real life!

2005 was wery important year of 3D printing! The RepRap Project ( replicating rapid prototyper) which idea is that you can 3D print a 3D printer! This main idea is like our project- you can download all files and drawings (and buy some) to make your own 3D printer. This idea had really big influence in 3D printing industry, because it leads to spreading of the FDM 3D desktop 3D printers.

In 2005, ZCorp launched the Spectrum Z510, the very first high-definition color 3D printer.

In 2008, 3D printing reached an even greater media presence thanks to another medical application: the first 3D printed prosthetic limb.

This amazing medical 3D printing project incorporated all parts of a biological limb, was printed ‘as is’, without the need for any later assembly. 

3D printers price change - 30 years and 30 000x 

Image source: https://bit.ly/3Fo6hzo

Nowadays, combined with 3D scanning, 3D printed medical prosthesis and orthosis are more and more cheaper and faster to get for the patient. Moreover, these prostheses are more and more optimized and adapted to the morphology of the patient. Additive manufacturing is bringing new opportunities regarding mass-customization.

In 2009  FDM patents in the public domain. This resulted a wide wave of innovation in FDM 3D printers, a drop of the desktop 3D printers price, and therefore more accessible for home and hobby users!

The 2010s: Explosive spread and new materials

The recent years have been very important for 3D Printing. With the FDM patent expiration, the first years of the decade have become the years of 3D printing. Additive manufacturing is then becoming a real and affordable prototyping and production technique for businesses, opening new possibilities 

In 2013, President Barack Obama mentioned 3D printing as a major issue for the future. 

In 2010, Urbee was the first 3D printed car. Its body was fully 3D printed using a very large 3D printer. Now, the 3D printed car is progressively becoming a reality, and additive manufacturing is taking more and more space in the automotive sector. 

In 2011 Cornell University build 3D food printer.

In 2012 The first prosthetic jaw is printed and implanted

In 2018 The first family moves into a 3D printed house

Chocolate printer:

Inage source: https://bit.ly/3uHYqrs

3D concrete printer

Image source: https://bit.ly/3W9Uhbm

The 2020s: More materials

3D printing technology keeps on evolving and progressing. New 3D printers are designed every moment. They are more efficient, they print faster and faster and with them you can print out variety of materials. 

Additive manufacturing is now offering the possibility to create parts for demanding sectors using advanced materials such as extremely resistant and rigid materials, or professional flexible plastics. 

Examples of different filament types and their proporties. 

As you can see, homeusers and prototyping covers over 50% of 3D printing usage. 

More complicated industries and technologies like metal and moulding ect aren't so widely spread. But as you remember from text above, 3D is so rapidly expanding and developing that we can be sure it will change in near future!

Image source: https://wohlersassociates.com/product/wohlers-report-2019/

Future of 3D printing

The exact future of the 3D Printing technology is hard to predict. However, it is much easier to see what is the general direction. The development is simultaneously in different directions:

we can see today that 3D printing is revolutionizing big sectors such as automotive, architecture or medical. But where can this technology still improve? 

AM - additive manufacturing = 3D printing growth and development will continue into the future as a central element of Industry 4.0.  As new materials are invented, printing speeds increase, hardware costs drop, new and innovative applications are discovered, and autonomous production capabilities come online,  3D printing will continue to evolve in the factories of tomorrow.

4D and 5D and 6D..........   printing

4D printing is the process through which a 3D printed object transforms itself into another structure over the influence of external energy input as temperature, light or other environmental stimuli. This technology is part of the project of MIT Self-assembly Lab. 

4D printing

Image source: https://bit.ly/3BwpPAf

5D printing is technology, where the print head & the printable object have five degrees of freedom. Instead of the flat layer, it produces curved layers. In this process, the print part moves while the printer head is printing. 

Image source: https://www.roboticgizmos.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/15/Open5x.gif