How has 3D printing developed?

3D printing story

In 1989 the next important 3D printing technology was registered for a patent (US4863538). This time by Carl Deckard, who invented the laser sintering process, in which a plastic powder is fused with a laser. In 2012 Carl Deckard co-founded Structured Polymers LLC, which develops polymers for laser sintering machines. Also in 1989, Hans Langer and Hans Steinbichler founded the most important German 3D printing company to date, EOS GmbH. Finally, in 1989 Scott Crump also applied for a patent (US5121329) for the FDM printing process, in which a plastic is melted and then applied in layers.

Further backgrounds

In terms of numbers, the FDM 3D printing process has now produced by far the largest number of 3D printers. This is due, on the one hand, to the comparatively low technical hurdles and, on the other hand, to the ease of use of the 3D printing process. It is therefore not surprising that FDM / FFF 3D printers are among the most popular 3D printers among many 3D printing enthusiasts around the world and have found a place in numerous living and working rooms. In fact, it cannot be ruled out that in a few years or decades a 3D printer will be part of our general household as well as the smartphone.

The abbreviation FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling Apply melted material to a model. The abbreviation FFF stands for Fused Filament Fabrication Melted (plastic) thread production. The plastic wires used in 3D printers are called filaments. Filaments are now available in numerous color and material combinations, as well as in different diameters, depending on which diameter is required by the respective 3D printer.

Various variations of the aforementioned basic 3D printing processes were subsequently developed and are now available to an ever wider audience. The history of 3D printing but is with it far from finished. We will of course stay on the ball and will continuously expand our brief overview as soon as groundbreaking developments have been added.

Modern desktop 3D printer

Modern desktop 3D printers, i.e. 3D printers that can be placed on a desk in the office, for example, are very popular with private users, model makers, architects, product developers and many other professional groups. These modern 3D printers work both in the FDM / FFF 3D printing process and in the stereolithography process (SLA). These devices are often supplemented by a whole portfolio of software, accessories and consumables, each of which is optimally matched to the respective 3D printer. Even 3D printers that work in laser sintering processes (SLS) are now offered in smaller versions, but are still comparatively expensive and therefore not likely to be found among private users.

The picture shows the current one FDM / FFF 3D printer model from Ultimaker. The Ultimaker S5 has an installation space of 330x240x300 mm, two print heads for optional 3D printing with two colors or model material plus support structure. The filament detection for the filaments of Ultimaker by means of an NFC chip and a print bed leveling process for an optimal first print layer help to avoid errors. A camera and filament monitoring are available to monitor the 3D printing process. With connection options via LAN or WLAN, the printer can also be operated remotely or controlled directly via its touch display using a USB stick. Ultimaker has developed its own software (Cura) for print preparation, which can be obtained free of charge from their homepage. Find out more about the Ultimaker S5 now.

The picture shows the current one SLA 3D printer model from Formlabs. The Form 2 has an installation space of 145x145x175 mm, which is quite a common size for an SLA desktop 3D printer. Due to the more expensive material and the higher technological challenge, SLA 3D printers for home and office use are usually smaller than FDM / FFF 3D printers. The Form 2 comes with free software Preform, which automatically supports the user in orientation and placement of the 3D print. Optionally, it can also be adjusted manually. The print jobs are sent to the 3D printer via LAN or WLAN and started, paused or canceled via a touch display. SLA 3D prints are washed in isopropanol after 3D printing and usually cured in a UV chamber. Find out more about Formlabs Form 3 now.


As of 2018, sources:

3D Printing Industry, Wikipedia, Google patent search