A Visit to the 3D Printing Museum

Detail from an 1864 patent seemingly doing a 3D capture

Detail from an 1864 patent seemingly doing a 3D capture

Want to know more about the earliest beginnings of 3D printing? 

You might want to visit the 3DP Museum, a small website detailing historic events related to 3D printing. 

We were directed to this site as a result of our previous post suggesting, whimsically, that 3D printing had in fact been invented in Victorian times. In fact, the story related to a series of steampunk stories, in which the invention of mechanical 3D printing would fit most correctly.

But the 3DP Museum details real events, in particular patents related to 3D printing technology. Patents are easily searched and provide an official record of technological developments.  

The events listed start with a patent I’d never heard of, in which a French sculptor and photographer proposed a way to use 24 differently angled silhouette shots to “capture” a rough 3D model of a subject, image at top. You can imagine the sculptor using the images to reproduce the subject by cutting each silhouette 24 times, rotating the material on each iteration. It should actually work for many geometries.

There’s another couple of early patents from the early 1980’s that did not take off in a business sense, with one being abandoned due to “lack of business perspective”. Incredible! 

Meanwhile, the two industry giants, 3D Systems and Stratasys, both appear on the list as their initial patents in the 1980’s led to the creation of their businesses and the larger 3D printing industry as a whole. 

Plaque commemorating the first commercial 3D printer from 1987 at 3D Systems

Plaque commemorating the first commercial 3D printer from 1987 at 3D Systems

The museum also has some history on CAD/CAM tools as well. 

It’s a fascinating journey through time, and the earliest entries in the online museum will become more notable as time passes. 

But what I’m wondering is, which items of today will be in a future 3DP museum? 

Via 3DP Museum

General Fabb

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has been writing Fabbaloo posts since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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