A brief history of 3D printing

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/the-evolution-of-3d-printing

A 3D printer used by a clinic in France to create skull and facial implants.

A brief history of 3D printing

On that evening, more than three decades ago, when he invented 3D printing, Chuck Hull called his wife.

She was already in her pyjamas, but he insisted that she drive to his lab to see the small, black plastic cup that he had just produced after 45 minutes of printing.

It was March 19, 1983. Hull was then an engineer working at a U.S. firm that coated furniture with a hard plastic veneer. As part of his work, he used photopolymers — acrylic-based liquids — that would solidify under ultraviolet light. Hull thought the same sort of process might be used to build a three-dimensional object from many thin layers of acrylic, hardened one after another, with targeted UV light from a laser beam.

Hull pursued his research on nights and weekends until finally sharing his eureka moment with his wife, Anntionette.

“I did it,” he told her simply.

Chuck Hull, inventor of the 3D printer

Hull took out a series of patents on his invention and went on to co-found a company, 3D Systems, that remains a leader in the field. Last year, the 75-year-old was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Hull’s invention launched a wave of innovation. Design engineers embraced 3D printers as the answer to their prayers: Instead of waiting weeks or months to have new parts produced, they could design them on computers and print prototypes the same day.

3D printers have since evolved and can now use all kinds of materials, including metals, ceramics, sugar, rubbers, plastics, chemicals, wax and living cells. It means designers can progress rapidly from concept to final product.

Advances in the printers’ speed, accuracy and versatility have made them attractive to researchers, profit-making firms and even do-it-yourselfers.

The cost of the machines has also dropped dramatically, which means it’s easy for home inventors to enter the field. Home Depot sells a desktop version for $1,699 while Amazon.com markets the DaVinci Junior 3D printer for $339.

The machines have been used to print shoes, jewellery, pizza, cakes, car parts, invisible braces, firearms, architectural models and fetal baby models (based on ultrasound images).

The wave of innovation triggered by the 3D printer is only now beginning to crest in the field of medicine. Researchers are racing to engineer implantable livers, kidneys and other body parts with the help of 3D printers.

In Canada, scientists are using 3D bioprinters as they work toward creating new limb joints made from a patient’s own tissue, and implantable skin for burn victims.

ottawacitizen.com

by Andrew Duffy | August 28, 2015 2:00 PM EDT

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Stellar delivery service and 3D printing

Amazon Will Improve their Already Stellar Delivery Service by Making Use of 3D Printing On the Go

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/132934-amazon-deliveries-will-get-ridiculously-fast-with-3d-printing-in-vans

Amazon is apparently trying all sorts of new delivery options including its Prime Air drone delivery system. Now it’s become apparent that the delivery expert is also looking into 3D printing built right into its delivery vans.

The idea behind the 3D printing trucks is that a person could order a product and have it delivered almost immediately as it gets 3D printed en route. With metal 3D printers that could mean replacement parts for a car arriving hours after ordering.

Amazon has filed several patents that describe the 3D printing trucks as, “mobile manufacturing hubs” suggesting they could make potentially anything. The patent describes that these would not only speed up the delivery time but would also clear valuable storage space in Amazon’s warehouses.

Amazon is also looking into other methods to speed up delivery including drones with its Prime Air service that’s currently being tested in India. It also announced an “anticipatory delivery” service which would allow e-retailers to send products to certain shipping hubs early if it predicts large sales in a particular area.

Amazon has not yet been awarded the patents for its manufacturing hubs. Here’s hoping it does and 3D printing gets pushed forward into daily use even more.

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