3D prinnting, the 4th industrial revolution

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The massive spread of 3D printing in the world of manufacturing industry and recently also in the consumer market leads to talk of the fourth industrial revolution, that is, a new way of thinking and using production technologies.

3D printing is part of the “additive manufacturing” (AM) technologies “additive manufacturing” that is the set of manufacturing processes that differs from traditional subtractive techniques because it works by adding material, using only what is strictly necessary without waste.

The most important dates

1984 Charles Hull invents the first modern 3D printing known as Stereolithography,

1988 Scott Crump invents fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology

1992 3D Systems produces the first stereolithography (SLA) printer. The machine uses UV light to solidify thin layers of photopolymer on a tray. This technique will be the basis of subsequent rapid prototyping technologies

1994 Eos, leader in the production of sintering machines, markets the first powder sintering system

2001 EOS and Concept Laser GmbH introduce a new system for the laser sintering of metal powders

2005 RepRap open-source association founded by Adrian Bowyer with the aim of designing a 3D printer capable of self-production

2006 first SLS Sinter printer / Object launches the first multi-material printer

2009 Printing of the first blood vessel

This chronology is useful to understand how up to 2000 rapid prototyping processes remained almost exclusively for industries.

Open source projects like RepRap and companies like MakerBot have helped bring 3D printing to the masses with a range of affordable and easy-to-use 3D printers.

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