TIME how things work

How 3D Printers Work

See how 3D printers create everything from guns to chocolate.

3D printers were invented by Chuck Hull as far back as 1983, but they recently rose to prominence after being used to make common items ranging from guns to body parts. But how do they work?

Using a process known as “additive manufacturing,” 3D printers can take a number of different materials from metal to plastic and even chocolate to create every piece of the final structure from scratch, with no material left over.

Hull sees a bright future for 3D printing, saying it’ll be a $4.5 billion business by the end of the decade.

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