Stereolithography technology was born 30 years ago, and with it the concept of additive manufacturing, here’s some curiosities about its inventor and the evolution of the production technology that has revolutionized at first industrial manufacturing but not only!
On March 11, 1986 Chuck Hull, US engineer, cofounder of 3D Systems and current vice president, filed a U.S. Patent entitled “Apparatus for Production of Three–Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography“, it is officially the beginning of the new era of three-dimensional modeling. In the text stereolithography it is described as a method to create solid objects from successive layers of photosensitive liquid polymer hardened struck by ultraviolet light guided by a computer. The CAD / CAM program that generates layer after layer the 3D object is moved by a .stl file, an interchange format created for communication with the rapid prototyping machines. To learn more read our article How to create a perfect .stl file
The first steps of stereolithography are directed purely to evolving industry toward degrees of detail and precision ever higher thanks to the continuous research of the major manufacturers of rapid prototyping machines. The materials follow the same path closer and closer to the standards guaranteed by the final polymers for both aesthetic yield for both functional performance.
The makers movement has been able to create its own idea of additive manufacturing and has managed to combine it in recent years in completely new contexts and disruptive forms, from design field to self-production of spare parts or tools for life daily. The field of medical experimentation has got a lot to this technology and each day we learn of new frontiers falling thanks to 3D printing for transplants, bone reconstruction, implants of any kind, and even more surprising creation of cellular tissue.
Obviously, research will always run its course and will bring in the years to come new ideas and new enhancements for the manufacturing industry and for our daily lives. Also new questions arise concerning industrial properties for reproducibility of objects, ethics for medical experimentation, reliability for architectural projects. Maybe not immediately, but institutions will be calls to regulate these issues, predict the final outcome will be really hard!