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3D Printing Into The New Millenium

The Milestones in the 2000s

Now we continue on with the remarkable history of 3D printing, as it leaves the 1990s, which years heralded the wide diversification of the technology. With so many developments, we are concentrating only on the most important breakthroughs.

The year 2000 saw the first 3D printed kidney; however, it took another 13 years to have one transplanted into a person. Since then, there have been more 3D printed kidneys now working perfectly while other 3D printed organs for transplant are developing rapidly.

In 2004, a self-replicating 3D printer was launched – a 3D printer printing another 3D printer. It’s called the RepRap Project, an open-source initiative that spreads the use of the FDM 3D desktop 3D printers. In 2005, the very first high-definition color 3D printer was introduced, called the Spectrum Z510 by ZCorp. In 2006, the first commercially available SLS printer was released, with on-demand manufacturing of industrial parts. CAD tools also became more available at this time, enabling anyone to develop 3D models on their computers.

In 2007, 3D Systems introduced the first 3D printing system under $10,000. It did not quite catch on as insiders, watchers, and users were looking forward to 3D printers under $5,000. Actually, 2007 was the year accessible 3D printing technology took root. Thanks to the RepRap phenomenon. In 2008, the first prosthetic leg was printed and it was sensational around the world. By 2009, new companies and competitors began to avail of the new technology as FDM patents fell into the public domain. The prices of 3D printers started to decline in the 2010s, making them available to the general public. Quality and ease of printing also increased.

Materials also evolved. A variety of plastics and filaments became widely available. Carbon fiber and glass fiber can be 3D printed. In 2012, alternative 3D printing processes were introduced at the entry level, like those using DLP technology, followed by stereolithography, with huge success. It was also in 2012 that many different mainstream media channels featured the technology. 2013 was a year of significant growth and consolidation. In 2019, the world’s largest functional 3D printed building was completed. 3D printing is now being used in developing healthcare applications, and many industries and sectors have adopted the technology into their daily workflow. By the 2020s came the more advanced additive manufacturing materials that are high performance materials offering improved thermal resistance, chemical resistance, or heat resistance for the most demanding applications.


Advancing Into The Future with 3D Printing

If you are looking into the advances of 3D printing technology, visit us at 3D Composites. We have been in business serving the community in the last three decades.

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How 3D Printing All Began: Timeline of A Revolution

The History of 3D Printing

3D printing technology was first called Rapid Prototyping (RP) back in the late 80’s. It was boasted as fast and cost-effective for building prototypes used in product development. A certain Dr. Kodama, Japanese patent lawyer, first filed the patent application in 1980, but for some reason, delayed in making it before the prescribed deadline. Hence, by 1986, Charles Hull, was issued the first patent for stereolithography apparatus. He first invented his SLA machine in 1983 and later co-founded 3D Systems Corporation. Today it is one of the largest and most prolific organizations in 3D printing.

Rapid Prototyping Technology

The corporation’s SLA process may be the first but it was not the only rapid prototyping technology at the time. In 1987, Carl Deckard of the University of Texas, filed a patent for the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) RP process, which later on 3D Systems Corp. acquired. In 1989, Scott Crump, a co-founder of Stratasys Inc. filed a patent for Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) which was issued in 1992. It is still in use today as well as the most preferred process of many entry-level printers now.

Europe was not to be left behind. So in 1989, Hans Langer founded EOS GmbH in Germany. The company also dealt in SLS in the beginning but its Research & Development refocused and later placed heavier emphasis on the laser sintering (LS) process with much vigor. Today, their systems are recognized worldwide for quality output for industrial prototyping and production applications of 3D printing.

During all these years, other 3D printing technologies and processes were emerging, namely Ballistic Particle Manufacturing (BPM), Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM), and Solid Ground Curing (SGC). Other competing companies entered the field and the RP market grew in size in the 90’s. The three – 3D Systems, EOS and Stratasys – were the originals still in big business today.

From the 1990’s up until early 2000’s new technologies continued to be introduced, mostly on industrial applications and largely for prototyping applications. R&D was the focus of the more advanced technology providers. New terminologies begin to emerge, namely Rapid Tooling, Rapid Casting and Rapid Manufacturing. And then there’s Additive Manufacturing. Now it’s the accepted umbrella terminology for all things 3D printing due to the expansion of applications.

By the mid 90’s, distinct diversifications began to emerge. There’s high-end 3D printing, expensive but geared towards high value, highly engineered, complex parts. Applications expanded and covered aerospace, automotive, architectural, and medical, among others. Then there’s the lower market – the 3D printers in the mid range where a price war raged with some improvements in printing accuracy, speed and materials.

Stay tuned for the developments in 3D printing history when the 2000’s roll in our next blog.



Understanding What 3D Printing Is About

What is 3D Printing Technology?

3D printing is a technology that brings to physical life a three-dimensional digital model, which is a CAD representation, by means of a specialized printer that lays down the material layer by layer from the bottom up. In other words, objects are manipulated in their digital format and manufactured into new shapes by addition of material. That is why the process is also known as additive manufacturing.

3D printing has now covered all forms of media – television, publications, and online resources. They say that it revolutionized design, impacted geopolitics, economy, environment, and even the security of our everyday lives. They say it will threaten or even end traditional manufacturing as we know it.

The most differentiating principle, and also the most basic one, behind 3D printing is that it is an additive manufacturing process. It is key, as 3D printing is a radically different method of manufacturing based on advanced technology that builds up parts, additively, in layers at the minutest level – fundamentally different from any other existing traditional techniques.

Traditional manufacturing has limitations, one of which is that it relies on human labor. However, the field has changed, and automation is now involved in machining, casting, forming and molding – processes that require machines, computers and robotics. Even then, these technologies demand subtracting material from a larger origin to produce the product itself and they consume long man-hours, huge costs, different materials, among other constraints.

3D printing has proved itself the innovative trailblazer in manufacturing that reduces lead times and excessive costs. It is capable of intricate geometry and complex designs without the added costs. It affords the added and almost limitless freedom of design, and opportunities of redesigning without too much loss of time. Energy-efficient and environment-friendly, 3D printing utilizes 90% of standard materials used, meaning there is minimal wastage. End products are lighter, stronger, and more durable.

The players in this field used to be dominated by huge, multinational companies. Now small and medium-sized endeavors are booming as the technology becomes more accessible and affordable. Even individuals owning a 3D printer can easily join in the fray. As the playing field is now wider and diverse, the adoption rate continues apace on all fronts, more and more systems, materials, applications, services and ancillaries are emerging.


Learn More About 3D Printing Basics

Need more 3D printing basics? Let 3D Composites fill you in. Contact our 3D printing company and let’s talk about fundamentals easy to understand.

Robotics Made Easy with 3D Printing in Seattle

What You Can Get Out of 3D Printing Your Robot

If you’re a student taking on a Robotics Minor in a university, you’ll be open to a greater understanding of robot control systems while being able to design and develop every part of the robot control software. From the classroom, the robotics aficionado applies all his learnings on robot sensors, motions, circuits, and overall design of robots to real-life setting. For some time now, a technology that has been revolutionizing many industries on the planet has found its way into robot-making – the 3D printer.

3D printing allows students and professionals to be creative and develop further investigation and exploration of robotic systems. 3D printing is leading the way to creating new robotic technology by combining digital modeling with the physical manifestation.

So if you are venturing into building your own robot, choose high-quality 3D printing to very quickly iterate each part of your machine. Your robot’s performance and abilities will be optimized and be far more efficient if 3D printing makes running tests, saving you time and money.

Also, 3D printing can make complex robotic parts and shapes that are strong and lightweight, enabling smaller motors and prolonging battery life. Putting together and connecting movable parts of your robot may cause breakage at weak points, but 3D printed parts can come in one piece that reduces assembly time and eliminates welding.

Once you’ve got your robot prototype from 3D printing, you can final test it, see to all the parts functioning optimally, and if need be, alterations on-the-fly can fix minor details. You can print small series and start to test your market. Robotics is fun, and with 3D printing, has become a lot easier.

Got a Robot Idea? Bring it to Seattle 3D Composites!

Your 3D printing company in Seattle can make your robot plans and designs come true and come easy with 3D printing. If you’ve got an idea, bring it to us and let’s make robots!

Robotic End-of-Arm Tooling in Ultem 1010

These cylindrical pieces were designed to work as part of an end-of-arm tool for a robotic arm. We printed them in Ultem 1010 because we wanted to be sure that they would be strong enough to withstand the repetitive motion of the robot’s work path.

Robots are used in all industries for increased productivity, and customized end-of-arm tools make sure that your automation is specific to your needs. 3D printing with Ultem 1010 is a great choice because it can be certified for food-contact and bio-compatibility.

We printed these tools with different edge heights so that the caps go from a flat surface to a more conical point. The option to have interchangeable tools gives the capability to have a range of finished products that can have build variations while maintaining quality consistency.

Can your project benefit from interchangeable custom parts? What other applications should we integrate with 3D printing? Send us your questions and ideas.