If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re no stranger to 3D printing and know a fair bit about it — but we reckon we can still surprise you with our 11 fascinating facts from the wide world of additive manufacturing.
Every day’s a school day here at i.materialise. We’re always learning something new, and we’re more than happy to share that knowledge with you. That’s why we’ve dug a little deeper into the past, present, and future of 3D printing to come up with the greatest listicle the internet has ever seen.
OK, so we’re exaggerating a little. But what we DO have are some entertaining facts that we think you will enjoy. Let’s take a look! 3D print phone holder
It’s older than you think
Many see 3D printing as something for the future or consider it a budding technology. Compared to some of the alternatives, that’s arguably true, but it doesn’t change the fact that 3D printing is older than you might think. It started in the mid-1980s when Chuck Hull invented the stereolithography process. That makes it pre-internet old and not much younger than the earliest CD. Nintendo hadn’t even brought out the Gameboy before the first 3D printer was up and running!
To put it in context, look no further than Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen. In 1985, Fried was already creating his own non-computer FDM models before establishing Materialise, one of the first 3D printing companies, just five years later.
It’s not just for prototyping
While 3D printing is definitely an important technology for creating prototypes — many large manufacturing companies continue to use it to test their latest innovations — it’s not limited to a one-and-done design. As the technology improved over the years, it became an affordable option for mass production. Many companies are successfully using AM in full production lines, creating everything from insoles to metal parts.
Of course, it’s not just for the multinationals out there. Independent designers can also bring their creations to life thanks to 3D printing.
It’s called fashion, Brenda
From catwalks to streetwear, we’ve seen some truly inspiring 3D-printed designs over the years. Fashion designers love the freedom that AM brings to their trade, with handbags, eyewear, entire dresses, and other wearables getting the 3D printing treatment more and more regularly. Who knows how long it’ll be before it becomes a high street mainstay?
It lets you print (almost) anything
Many people might not look past plastic when it comes to 3D printing materials, but there are plenty more options to choose from. Just ask the jewelers who use AM to create their latest pieces out of various precious metals!