3D printing is done all over the world. It is also referred to as additive manufacturing, while another synonym for this technology is desktop fabrication. 3D printing is a process in which a physical and real item is developed with the help of a 3D design blueprint. Furthermore, a 3D printing service was first introduced in 1986, but you will learn more about the history later on in this article. Back then it was new and it was not used a lot, but nowadays many companies in all different kinds of industries employ additive manufacturing.

The different types of 3D printing

The ISO/ASTM 52900 standard categorized all different types of 3D printing under one of these seven groups:

  • Material Extrusion (FDM): Material is selectively dispensed through a nozzle or orifice
  • Vat Polymerization (SLA & DLP): Liquid photopolymer in a vat is selectively cured by UV light
  • Powder Bed Fusion (SLS, DMLS & SLM): A high-energy source selectively fuses powder particles
  • Material Jetting (MJ): Droplets of material are selectively deposited and cured
  • Binder Jetting (BJ): Liquid bonding agent selectively binds regions of a powder bed
  • Direct Energy Deposition (LENS, LBMD): A high-energy source fuses material as it is deposited
  • Sheet Lamination (LOM, UAM): Sheets of material are bonded and formed layer-by-layer


Charles Hull is essentially the creator of 3D printing, although this is not really the case. He invented a process known as Stereolithography, or SLA, in 1984. Later Hull would confound the well-known company 3D Systems. His invention in essence gave birth to the entire concept of 3D printing. It enabled users to produce a three dimensional item from a digital design. 3D models could now be created with the help of a picture or blueprint. 3D Systems, Hull’s company, would go on to produce the first machine capable of developing 3D products from computer design. This 3D printer was named the Stereolithographic Apparatus, since it used Stereolithography. Since these inventions 3D printing has progressed rapidly. During the latter stages of the 1990s fully functional organs were already produced with the help of additive manufacturing. Nowadays there even is a self-replicating printer, this machine is capable of manufacturing itself by printing its parts and components.

How it works

3D printing has thus innovated lots since Charles Hull invented Stereolithography in 1984. However, in essence it is still the same. It namely still creates 3D objects by fusing layers of powdered material together. This is how the product will be built, which will be done by a so-called 3D printer. Under computer control this can carry out different kinds of processes. Usually a 3D printer uses a process called SLS, which is the abbreviation of Selective Laser Sintering. These machines use a laser source in order to solidify and fuse together the powder of a specific raw material. There are many different types of materials you can use during this process, including metals, plastics, and polymers. The raw material will be placed into a reservoir, which is called the vat. Another important component is the elevator, which raises or lowers the platform.