Chuck Hull, Inventor of SLA 3D Printing. Also check out a short interview with Tim Anderson, founder of Z Corp, below. From the NYTimes.com:
In the early 1980s, an engineer named Chuck Hull approached his boss with an idea: to build a machine that printed out objects you could hold in your hand. His manager discouraged him — after all, the company produced UV lamps, not “Star Trek” replicators. But eventually the two men reached a compromise: Hull would dedicate himself to the company’s lamps by day; at night he’d cobble together his dream machine.
It was the UV lights that gave Hull his insight in the first place. The lamps were used in factories to harden a plastic veneer onto tabletops or rubber tiles. Hull realized that he could use UV light to etch plastic layers into whatever shape he liked and then stack these layers to form a 3-D object.
At first he had to write code to tell his machine how to cut each layer, a painstaking process. “I was limited to fairly simple shapes,” he says. One day, for instance, he brought home a Munchkin-size cup to show his wife. “It looked like that thing you buy in the drugstore to wash out your eyes,” he says. And his first 3-D printer “was so kludged together that it looked post-apocalyptic, like some of the equipment they used in that movie ‘Waterworld.’ ”
But by the mid-1980s, the printer had evolved into a working product, albeit one with a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because the printer was too heavy to lug to demos, Hull made home movies to show to executives. “The movies were pretty corny,” but even so, he says, “we got a tremendous response.” Particularly in Detroit. “Back then, the U.S. automotive industry had fallen way behind Japan,” Hull says, and the car companies were desperate for a secret weapon. The 3-D printer was just that: Engineers could create their own prototypes for door handles or stick-shift knobs, rather than sending blueprints to a tool-and-die shop, shaving months off the design process….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!