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Charles Hull (Born: May 12, 1939, in Clifton, Colorado) is the inventor of stereolithography (Patent No. 4,575,330), the first commercial rapid prototyping technology commonly known as 3D printing. The earliest applications of 3D printing were in research and development labs and tool rooms, but today 3D printing applications are seemingly endless. The technology has been used to create anything from sports shoes, aircraft components, and artificial limbs to artwork, musical instruments, and clothing.
The earliest 3D printing technologies first became visible in the late 1980’s, at which time they were called Rapid Prototyping (RP) technologies. This is because the processes were originally conceived as a fast and more cost-effective method for creating prototypes for product development within industry.
Choosing the right 3D printer among the various alternatives may at first seem like a daunting task. There are significant differences in how each printing technology turns digital data into a solid object. Today’s 3D printers can use a variety of materials with vast differences in mechanical properties, feature definition, surface finish, environmental resistance, visual appearance, accuracy and precision, useful life, thermal properties and more.
Sustainability is not a new topic in 3D printing. It has been already taken in consideration by several companies in the field. Today many of the materials used in 3D Printing are recycled at different levels and if we are talking about using 3D printers to build prototypes, this can be seen as a way to reduce waste, as well.
3D Systems's new ChefJet and ChefJet Pro are 3D printers that print real, edible, delicious candies of varying shapes and sizes — 3D Systems says they’re the world’s first 3D food printers. The ChefJet uses a combination of sugar and water that actually creates a sugar frosting in real time, albeit as slowly as you’d expect from a 3D printer. Candies can be made in incredibly complex shapes, some of which are even hollow skeletons that hold little spheres — all edible, of course.
3D printing has been used to print patient specific implant and device for medical use. Successful operations include a titanium pelvis implanted into a British patient, titanium lower jaw transplanted to a Belgian patient, and a plastic tracheal splint for an American infant. The hearing aid and dental industries are expected to be the biggest area of future development using the custom 3D printing technology. In March 2014, surgeons in Swansea used 3D printed parts to rebuild the face of a motorcyclist who had been seriously injured in a road accident. Research is also being conducted on methods to bio-print replacements for lost tissue due to arthritis and cancer.