|2/16/2017 by mdc|
|Emma Harwood reports that from the factory floor to the real world and home and school use, this present a timeline of 3D printing highs and lows from the 1980s to the future. In the early 80s, Charles Hull invented stereolithography (SLA) and soon after Carl Deckard patented selective laser sintering (SLS). |
But 3D printing really started life in the automobile industry. In 1986, Ford bought the third 3D printer ever made, called the SLA 3, for prototyping new part designs. Boeing began 3D printing in the 1980s. Boeing pushed the envelope back then, testing the limits of new technologies early on. He points out that before automated tooling enabled the company to accelerate design cycles, it was the long lead times to get parts and tooling to the factory floor that turned around design concepts much faster. BAE Systems was founded in 1999 and the defense, aerospace and security company flew fighter jets with 3D printed metal components in 2014.
Flash forward to 2017, and the Ottawa Hospital has recently opened the first medical 3D printing program of its kind in Canada, in order to make prosthetic limbs relatively cheaply. Dr. Frank Rybicki, chief of medical imaging, says that 3D printing has been an emerging technology for some time in other fields, such as aerospace or the automotive field, and now it is coming to medicine.
An expiration of a key patent in 2009 allowed many startups to offer inexpensive 3D printers for consumers. In 2013, retailer Staples started selling 3D printers made by 3D Systems, a landmark event propelling 3D printing into the mainstream, commercial market. But the desktop market died as consumer adoption was more complex than many realized. The high expectations were not well managed or helped by the media, who latched onto 3D printing in 2012. Headlines heralded the third industrial revolution and talked of the biggest single disruptive phenomenon to impact global industry. But now industry has taken up 3D and is running.