Why 2014 could be the year of the light-based 3D printer


If you have ever seen a desktop 3D printer, chances are good that it worked by melting strings of plastic and then laying down the resulting goo layer by layer. This is called fused deposition modeling (FDM, or sometimes called fused filament fabrication), and it has always been the most popular personal 3D printer technology.

But that might be changing. Stereolithography and digital light processing, which use a laser and projector, respectively, to cure liquid resin layer by layer, has been experiencing a boom similar to the one FDM printers went through just a few years ago. Prices are dropping and options are expanding. 2014 could very well be the year that FDM manufacturers start to worry.

Formlabs starts it all

The first SLA printer was developed back in the 1980s by Charles Hull. He later used the technology to found 3D Systems, which has since grown…

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