History of 3D printing

Research shows that the early days of 3D printing goes back a long way. François Willème, a French sculptor and painter, photographed his models from several sides in 1860. Later, he transferred the contours of the photos to a blank. This enabled him to create realistic statues and busts. His approach is considered one of the first precursor models of the 3d scan.


Joseph E. Blanther first developed a technique similar to that of 3D printing in 1892. He produced 3-dimensional cards by placing wax plates on cards, cutting them along the contour lines and then gluing them together. This approach gave him a positive and negative form of terrain. After smoothing, a printed paper was placed between the two forms and pressed. J.E.Blanther patented this technique in May of 1892.


After many further developments of Joseph E. Blanther’s approach, Chuck Hull first succeeded in developing a 3D printer in 1984. He invented the stereolithography (SLA) manufacturing process and the associated STL file format. In 1986, he applied for a patent for this process, now known as 3D printing. He had, therefore, laid the foundation for the generative production process. The result is an object in which a material is layered on top of each other. This was in contrast to the traditional production processes known to date, in which material is removed from an existing object.


1989 saw a further major advance in the field of 3D printing. This year Scott Crump presented the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer and patented it on June 9, 1992. In this printing process, plastic is melted and then applied in layers to a build platform. This is the most common printing process for home users today.


Over time, many other variations have developed based on these printing processes, which are becoming more and more accessible to an ever-widening public. The entire history of 3D printing is not told here, of course, but we give a rough overview. For more details, read the report by T. Wohler and T. Gornet: http://wohlersassociates.com/history2014.pdf

How does a 3D printer work?

On the following page, we will explain what 3D printing is and how a 3D printer works.