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3-D Printing Specialists


Additive manufacturing may seem like the hot new thing, but did you know that it’s been around since the early 1980s? One industry pioneer was Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute, who, in 1981, published a description of a functional rapid-prototyping system that used photopolymers. A photopolymer is a synthetic plastic or related substance that becomes solid when exposed to light. A prototype is a sample, or model, of a product that can be studied and tested before time and money are spent on its mass production. Another pioneer, Charles Hull (the co-founder, executive vice president, and chief technology officer of 3D Systems), invented stereolithography in 1984. This technique allows designers to create 3-D models using a digital file.

Early additive manufacturing processes were expensive, slow, and primarily used to make prototypes. But designers and engineers worked diligently throughout the mid-1980s and 1990s to improve additive manufacturing processes. In the mid-2000s, the development of open-source software and hardware design (including those that allowed users to create a 3-D printer that could print most of its own components), advances in hardware, decreases in the price of 3-D printers, and improvements in the accuracy of 3-D printing) have allowed people of all skill levels to begin using 3-D printing technology.  

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