3D printing has been in the news and on people’s minds a lot lately in light of rapid advances in the technology, its accessibility to individual households, and exciting research into potential applications. As new as this technology seems, though, the first 3D printing method, called stereo lithography, was actually invented in the mid-1980s by Chuck Hull.
There are many types of 3D printers and variations on the process, but at the core, 3D printing involves turning a digital “blueprint” into a three-dimensional solid object through an additive or subtractive manufacturing process. An additive process adds layer upon layer of material until the object is created, which has the potential to waste far less raw material. The traditional subtractive manufacturing processes are used to cut the raw material into the final object’s shape.