The first 3D printer was created in 1983 by Charles Hull. He is the first inventor that used stereolithography as a commercial rapid prototyping technology. The earliest applications of 3D printing technology were in research labs, unlike today, where they are widespread.
Charles Hull worked on the development of UV-curable resins when he first got an idea of 3D printing. This UV-curable method uses UV light to cure and bond a photopolymer resin and its built layer by layer.
His idea was to find more effective technology to speed up many production hours for each product prototype. In those times, it usually took six weeks to create prototypes, so this kind of technology was a breakthrough in the manufacturing industry.
Hull founded 3D Systems in 1986 to commercialize 3D printing technology. That included STL file format that allows CAD software data to translate for 3D printers. The company released its first commercial product in 1988, named SLA-1.
Charles Hull earned the honor of being in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, where you can also see the first-ever 3D printer.