The first 3D printer was created by Charles W. (Chuck) Hull in the mid-1980s. It used a technique called stereolithography, an expensive commercial technique, with machines usually costing $100,000 or more.
Benefits: 3D printing gives designers the ability to quickly turn concepts into 3D models or prototypes (a.k.a., rapid prototyping), and allows for rapid design changes. It allows manufacturers to produce products on demand rather than in large runs, improving inventory management and reducing warehouse space. People in remote locations can fabricate objects that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. 3D printing can save money and material over subtractive manufacturing techniques in which material is cut, drilled, or shaved off, as very little raw material is wasted. And it promises to change the nature of manufacturing, eventually letting consumers download files for printing 3D objects—including, for example, electronics devices—in their own homes.