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Only a few brief years ago, the concept of a 3D printer sounded like something out of an episode of Star Trek. Were human beings capable of such complex and advanced technology? Could you print a pizza?

Today, 3D printing is fairly commonplace and has applications for fabrication, innovation, and accessibility. But who invented the 3D printer, and how did it develop into its current form? As it turns out, this technology has been around for quite a long time, and it’s only improving.

If you’re curious about where 3D printing began, read on to learn a little bit about the history of this tech and the mysterious 3D printer inventor who made it all possible!

What Is 3D Printing?

To answer the question from the intro: no, you can’t print a pizza, but you can print a tiny, plastic scale model of one, which is equally cool!

Essentially, a 3D printer is a device that can print layers of thermal plastic. A programmer or designer creates a virtual model using specialized software. The printer can translate the model into three dimensions and create it from the bottom up.

This is important technology because we’re in a time of great innovation but also live in an era of climate change. Manufacturing and production is time-consuming, expensive, and uses many resources. With 3D printing, designers can create inexpensive working prototypes quickly, which makes innovation efficient and sustainable.

You can learn more about the process of 3D printing here.

Who Invented the 3D Printer?

The inventor of the 3D printer was Charles Hull, and when he invented this technology, it was still known as stereolithography. That was back in the 1980s, with the earliest 3D printers commercialized in 1986.

Upon perfecting his design, Charles Hull had to test out the device. The first object that he designed and printed is not the most thrilling footnote in 3D printer history. It was a tiny cup that Hull intended to use as an eyewash!

Hull was an engineer who received his degree from the University of Colorado. Other than that, we don’t know much about this pioneer, who leads a fairly private life.

What we can deduce is that he is most likely proud of how far his invention has come. Back in the 80s, this technology cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today, individuals own affordable home 3D printers and create innovations of their own!

The Future of 3D Printing

As we speak engineers are experimenting with different substrates to use in 3D printers – meaning that printable pizza may not be as far away as you think! Like most technology, 3D printers are steadily becoming more affordable. Now when someone asks you “Who invented the 3D printer?” you can tell them it was Charles Hull – and thank him, while you’re at it!

Looking for more interesting tidbits about the latest tech out there? Check out the rest of the blog for more posts about the past, present, and future of tech!

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