Charles Hull SLA inventor

Charles Hull, inventor of SLA 3D printing, founder of Stratasys.

3D printing history goes back further than you might realise, with it’s origins in the 19th century and attempts to make 3-dimensional sculptures from cameras and ideas about producing topographical maps.

1860 – The photosculpture method of François Willème captures an object in 3 dimensions using cameras surrounding the subject.

1892 – Blanther proposes a layering method of producing topographical maps.

1972 – Mastubara of Mitsbushi motors proposes that photo-hardened materials (photopolymers) are used to produce layered parts.

1981 – Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute publishes the first  account of a working photopolymer rapid prototyping system.

1984 – Charles Hull (founder of 3D systems) invents stereolithography (SLA) – which is patented in 1987. The technology allows you to take a 3D model and use a laser to etch it into a special liquid (photopolymer).

1984 – Alain Le Mahaute files a patent for stereolithography (SLA) – 3 weeks before Charles Hull. However, the patent is abandoned and Le Mahaute misses out on being called the “inventor” by history.

1991 – Stratasys produces the world’s first FDM (fused deposition modelling) machine. This technology uses plastic and an extruder to deposit layers on a print bed.

1992 – 3D systems produce the first SLA 3D Printer machine.

1992 – DTM produces first SLS (selective laser sintering) machine. This machine is similar to SLA technology but uses a powder (and laser) instead of a liquid.

1994 – Model Maker’s wax printer is released.

3D Printed Kidney

3D Printed kidneys are just one of the many medical applications possible.

1997 – Aeromet invents laser additive manufacturing.

1999 – Scientists manage to grow organs from patient’s cells and use a 3D printed scaffold to support them.

2000 – The first 3D inkjet printer produced by Object Geometries.

2000 – The first multicolour 3D printer made by Z Corp.

2001 – The first desktop 3D printer made by Solidimension.

2002 – A 3D printed minature kidney is manufactured. Scientists aim to produce full-sized, working organs.

2005 – The Reprap project is founded by Dr Adrian Bowyer at the University of Bath. The project was intended as a democratization of 3D printing technology.

The Reprap 3D Printer

The Open Source hardward Reprap 3D Printer can produce a large number of it’s own parts.

2008 – The Reprap Darwin is the first 3D printer to be able to produce many of it’s own parts.

2008 – The first biocompatible FDM material produced by Stratasys.

2008 – The first 3D prosthetic leg is produced.

2008 – Shapeways – a website market for 3D models – launches.

2008 – Makerbot’s Thingiverse launches – a website for free 3D (and other models) file sharing.

2009 – Makerbot produces a Reprap evolved kit for a wider audience.

2009 – The first 3D printed blood vessel is produced by Organovo.

Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed

Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed holding a 3D printed gun.

2011 – The first 3D printed car (Urbee by Kor Ecologic).

2012 – The first 3D printed jaw is produced in Holland by LayerWise.

2013 – Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed is asked to remove designs for the world’s first 3D printed gun and the domain is seized.



AV Plastics offers an in-house 3D printing facility which allows rapid prototyping using 3D modelling. This will enable the product to come to market more quickly as, for example, you will be able can undertake fit and finish evaluation, undertake life testing, durability and reliability trials, and prove the assembly procedure quickly before commissioning the manufacture of the mould tool.

We can assist you with 3D printing / modelling and all other prototype injection moulding techniques. Please contact us and we will be happy to provide you with a quotation or any advice you require

We offer FDM 3D printing (as low as 0.075mm layer thickness) using ABS, PLA or Nylon.

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