The History of 3D Printing: 3D Printing Technologies from the 80s to Today

3D printing is not as new as you may think! Actually, FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology became quite popular and impressive for the general public around 2009 because of its media coverage. At some point, a lot of people actually thought that FDM was the only additive manufacturing technology. But FDM is not even the first 3D printing technology developed, and 3D printing actually started in the 1980s.

Here is a quick 3D printing timeline from the 1980s to today. The history of 3D printing is fascinating. The first machines, the great expectations, and the many 3D printing applications that are now flourishing. Let’s take a look back at the 3D printing history.

If I recall correctly (without looking it up), it was patented either the year before or the year after the cell phone (around 1983). The main reason it’s suddenly become popular is actually because the double whammy of both the patent expiring, opening the to competition, and development of cheap microcontrollers with enough memory and speed to handle the real-time needs of operating what is essentially a robot. Prior to that, the controllers alone would cost several hundred to several thousand dollars and price it out of the mass market.

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