A 3D printer, which is a device operating with the use of additive technology, is a device used quite widely in various sectors and industries. However, it still awakens the imagination as the equipment is extremely modern and gives unlimited possibilities. Is it really so? What were the beginnings of 3D printers? How do they work and where are they most often used?
The beginnings of 3D printers
It is assumed that the official beginning of 3D printing is the moment of filing a patent for stereolithography, the first additive method. This patent was filed by Charles Hull, an American, in 1984. However, work on the development of additive technologies was carried out even in the seventies of the last century. In 1986, Charles Hull founded the world’s first company to produce and sell large industrial 3D printers.
Soon after, more companies and new production methods began to appear. The very name „3D printing” was first used in 1993 by scientists in Massachusetts.
FDM as the most commonly used technology in 3D printers
FDM is an additive technology most often used in 3D printers, and printing is done here from plastic in the form of a line wound on a spool. 3D printers using this method are relatively easy to use and inexpensive, and therefore very popular. However, it is worth remembering that apart from FDM technology, there are many other 3D printing methods.
Plastic 3D printers generate the highest sales records and are used by most companies and individual users. However, they have some technological limitations, which is why they only work well in the production of specific details.
Other 3D printing technologies
3D printing is any technique by which we create a spatial object layer by layer. In addition to the already mentioned FDM, we distinguish here the following technologies:
- Binder Jetting (selective sand bonding),
- CJP (selective gypsum powder bonding),
- DLP (curing photosensitive resins with the light emitted by the projector),
- SLA (curing photosensitive resins with a laser beam),
- UV (curing photosensitive resins with a UV lamp),
- SLS (selective sintering of powdered plastics),
- SLM, EBM, DMLS (selective melting of powdered metals),
- MJF (selective bonding, powdering of plastics and their welding).
Let us add here that there are also many other methods that are variations of the techniques mentioned above.
3D printer in medicine and industry
3D technology is an inherent support in the rapid prototyping process. In the 3D printing process, the created objects are cheaper than in the case of traditional manufacturing methods, and the production process itself is faster. In addition, it is possible to produce just a few objects or even one item (again – as opposed to traditional manufacturing methods). The industry has become the first recipients of 3D printers, followed by medicine (models, prostheses, implants).
3D printing is also used in the aviation and automotive industries, as well as in heavy industry. Check which 3D printer will work best for you.
3D printers are willingly used as a curiosity, for example in the Foodink.io restaurant, where we receive dishes made thanks to a 3D printer, as well as dishes, cutlery and furniture here also made in this technology. An interesting fact is that 3D printers are also used to create, for example, ice sculptures and even houses.
Home 3D printer
Although we still believe that 3D printers are devices that are used only by companies or hobbyists with large financial resources, it is worth knowing that we will buy a simple 3D printer for home use for under $500. What’s more, on the web you will find a whole lot of interesting pages with ready-made designs for printing. These can be figurines, handles, hooks, ornaments, as well as small elements, for example missing plastic parts for household appliances.