There are numerous companies that manufacturer 3D printers, such as Materialese, 3D Systems and ExOne. Another company, Voxel8, makes a 3D printer that uses multiple materials.
Three-dimensional printing is a form of product manufacturing that involves using a computer rendering to design and create a tangible object. The earliest forms of 3D printing were first developed in 1984 by the 3D Systems Corporation. This process involved cutting away pieces of a polymer using ultraviolet lasers.
Companies refined the concepts and processes over the next 30 years until the cost of creating both the printers and the materials came down. By the 2010s, 3D printing became a commercially viable method of manufacturing.
The most common type of 3D printing uses an additive process. An operator first creates a three-dimensional rendering of the desired object in a computer aided design file. This file allows the creator to easily modify plans of the object with full control.
Once the design is final, the printer breaks down the file into many two-dimensional cross sections of the object. The printer looks at each layer of the object and uses one of several types of additive processing to create the final object. This is similar to how an ink printer creates words on a page one sliver of a line at a time.