Much of the technology that dominates our world today had its beginnings in the 1980s, including PCs, video games, the cell phone – and 3D printing. When he invented it 33 years ago, Chuck Hull couldn’t have known what weird and wonderful things 3D printing would end up being used for. Here are some of the most interesting
photo credit: 3D Systems
This is the first ever 3D-printed object. In 1983, Chuck Hull developed what was then known as stereolithography to prototype plastic parts. This small cup shape is the first object he successfully designed and printed.
photo credit: ZJAN/Wenn
A bionic hand like this one, designed by Japanese company exiii, would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to make a decade ago. Now, using a 3D printer, it can be made for less than $300. The firm has made the 3D-model files for the arm, called HACKberry, available for anyone to download.
photo credit: Jay Janner/AP/PA
This is the first completely 3D-printed handgun, made by Cody Wilson in Austin, Texas, in 2013. Wilson ran into problems with the printer manufacturer, however – the company was not happy about the use of its device to make weapons.
photo credit: Barcroft USA
The body of this electric car was made as a single piece by a giant 3D printer in Chicago in 2014. It took 45 hours to print, then the mechanical parts were made using conventional methods. Other vehicles have since been printed, including a nano racing car.
photo credit: Diemut Strebe
This artwork, by Dutch artist Diemut Strebe, is a replica of Vincent van Gogh’s left ear. It is not made of plastic, but living cells derived from tissue supplied by van Gogh’s great-grandson.
photo credit: DPA Picture Alliance/Alamy Stock Photo
Marzipan figures printed at a conference in Germany in February. Other foods that lend themselves to 3D printing include chocolate, cookie dough and ice cream.
photo credit: Christian Hartmann/Reuters
Laurent Bernadac plays the “3Dvarius”, a 3D-printed violin made of transparent resin, in Paris in 2015. The instrument was based on a model of a Stradivarius violin, then the design was modified to try and give it the best possible weight distribution and acoustic properties.
photo credit: VCG/Getty
This year, Chinese construction company HuaShang Tengda printed an entire two-storey house in Beijing. The company’s team built the frame of the house then covered it with concrete using its gigantic 3D printer. It took just 45 days from start to finish – traditional building methods would usually take months to achieve the same feat.