3D Printing History

What’s almost 40 years old but looks brand new? Believe it or not, it’s 3D printing.

3D printing is one of the most revolutionary technologies of the 21st century. Giving everyone from engineers and doctors, enthusiasts and small business owners the ability to transform virtual ideas into physical objects, it promises to change life as we know it.
1981–1999 – The 3D Printing is born

1981 – Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute publishes the first account of a working photopolymer rapid prototyping system.

1984 – Charles Hull (founder of 3D systems) invents stereolithography (SLA) – which is patented in 1987. The technology allows you to take a 3D model and use a laser to etch it into a special liquid (photopolymer)

1991 – Stratasys produces the world’s first FDM (fused deposition modelling) machine. This technology uses plastic and an extruder to deposit layers on a print bed.

1992 – 3D systems produce the first SLA 3D Printer machine.

1992 – DTM produces first SLS (selective laser sintering) machine. This machine is similar to SLA technology but uses a powder (and laser) instead of a liquid

1997 – Aeromet invents laser additive manufacturing.

1999–2010 – 3D Printing is growing fast

1999 – Scientists manage to grow organs from patient’s cells and use a 3D printed scaffold to support them.

2000 – The first 3D inkjet printer produced by Object Geometries.

2000 – The first multicolour 3D printer made by Z Corp.

2001 – The first desktop 3D printer made by Solidimension.

2002 – A 3D printed minature kidney is manufactured. Scientists aim to produce full-sized, working organs.

2005 – The Reprap project is founded by Dr Adrian Bowyer at the University of Bath. The project was intended as a democratization of 3D printing technology.

2008 – The Reprap Darwin is the first 3D printer to be able to produce many of it’s own parts.

2008 – The first biocompatible FDM material produced by Stratasys.

2008 – The first 3D prosthetic leg is produced.

2008 – Shapeways – a website market for 3D models – launches.

2008 – Makerbot’s Thingiverse launches – a website for free 3D (and other models) file sharing.

2009 – Makerbot produces a Reprap evolved kit for a wider audience.

2009 – The first 3D printed blood vessel is produced by Organovo

2010 – The first Prusa Mendel was released

2011 – Present Day: The Sky is no longer the limit

2011 – The first 3D printed car (Urbee by Kor Ecologic).

2011 – The first 3D printed edible food is created

2012 – The first 3D printed jaw is produced in Holland by LayerWise

2012 – Filabot develops a system for closing the loop with plastic and allows for any FDM or FFF 3D printer to be able to print with a wider range of plastics.

2013 – The first 3D printed rocket parts are created, printed by SpaceX

2014 – NASA flying first zero-gravity 3D printer into space.

2014 – Georgia Institute of Technology Dr. Benjamin S. Cook, and Dr. Manos M. Tentzeris demonstrate the first multi-material, vertically integrated printed electronics additive manufacturing platform (VIPRE) which enabled 3D printing of functional electronics operating up to 40 GHz.

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

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