Dental Asia May/Jun 2018

28 DENTAL ASIA MAY / JUNE 2018 F or over 30 years, 3D Systems has bridged the gap between inspiration and innovation by connec t i ng cus tome r s with the expertise and digital manufacturing workflow required to solve their business, design or engineering problems. Through the inspiration of Mr. Charles “Chuck”W. Hull, co-founder and inventor of stereolithography (3D Printing), 3DSystems has grown intoone of the global leaders in 3D solutions. Read on to get a clearer picture of the inspiration behind the innovation, 3D printing’s widespread (and still expanding) application, and to know more about Mr. Chuck Hull, the pioneer behind one of the most inƪuential technological advancements of the last three decades. Inspiration behind the innovation As a design engineer in the early 1980s, Mr. Hull realised that the production process to design plastic partswith injection moulding was very time consuming and tedious. Working at a company that made equipment for UV curable inks and coatings, he wondered whether the UV curable plastic could be formed into thin sheets and fused together to form three-dimensional objects. This is where his idea to make prototypes for plastic parts came from as he believed this would greatly speed up plastic part design. Mr. Hull described that the previous process involved: designing the part, making blueprints, discussing the designs with the toolmaker, producing the mould for the plastic part, and then injecting the mould with the material. A waiting period of six to eight weeks passes before the part could be produced. The process, needless to say, eats up a lot of time. In addition, sometimes parts would come in with ƪaws or would require adjustments, which entails going through the same process of redesigning and executing the changes. He admits that often it could take months to just develop a Ƥrst part/article before they could actually test it. “That was the way to design plastic parts and everybody struggled with it. My goal was to see if I could come up with a way to get that Ƥrst article faster, do iterations quickly, test the design and then Ƥnally having a tool for production,” Mr. Hull recalls. He admits that he tried a couple of ideas that didn’t work before he Ƥnally got on to what was ultimately known now as stereolithography. Finally, in 1983 he made the Ƥrst 3D printed part. Ahead of His Time Mr. Hull is inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame at the U.S. Patent o ƥ ce in 2014. Interviewed by Ms. Jamie Tan