Additive manufacturing (AM), commonly called 3D printing, isn’t just for rocket scientists anymore. Its use has increased exponentially as companies and researchers discover useful applications and innovative methods. Availability of equipment and supplies for performing three-dimensional printing is becoming almost commonplace; it’s just a matter of time before retailers start to offer 3D printing services, or a few mavericks begin to do it in their homes (broken coffee cup? No problem; I’ll just make another one!).
Back in the late 1980s, single-production industrial prototyping was going from drawing board to reality. The first patent was issued in 1986 for the stereolithography apparatus (SLA), with the first commercial system sold in 1988. During the few years that followed, prototyping technologies (and their acronyms!) continued to emerge, including selective laser sinter