Today, the world of 3D printing was shaken by the official publication of information about the death of Carl Deckard – the creator of SLS technology (selective laser sintering of powdered plastics), and also one of the absolute pioneers in the field of 3D printing, whose work dates back to the early 80s of the last century. He was the author of 27 patents – including a patent for the aforementioned SLS technology. Thanks to his achievements, the first printing machines made of both powdered polymers and powdered metals hit the market. Deckard died last week, the day before Christmas Eve, at the age of 58.
The beginnings of Deckard’s path to the invention of one of the first additive methods date back to 1981, when, after completing his first year of study, he began a summer job at TRW Mission in Houston, producing parts for the oil sector. Watching closely how the metal was cut there using a computer control system based on CAD software, he saw great potential in the automation of this process …
Over the next years, he explored this issue and began to specialize in industrial lasers. In 1984, Deckard created the first concept of using a laser beam or electrons to selectively fuse fragments of powdered material layers, based on data obtained from CAD drawings.
Dr Joe Beaman became interested in the project and decided to support a talented student. Soon their work led to the creation of one of the most important 3D printing technologies – SLS and the establishment in 1987 of the first company manufacturing devices using this method in practice – DTM.
The first SLS machines hit the market in 1992, and their recipients was Sandia National Labs. Nearly a decade later, in 2001, DTM was acquired by 3D Systems – a company founded by the official inventor of additive technologies – Charles Hull. After selling the enterprise, Deckard took a lecturer position at Clemson University and later developed a four-stroke engine with only one moving part. In 2011, he returned to the 3D printing industry with the Structured Polymers team. His team developed the groundbreaking SLS consumables – the rights to some of them were bought by the chemical concern Evonik.
Celebrations related to Carl Deckard’s life and last goodbye will take place in January 2020. The family asked to send donations to the organization helping animals – Austin Pets Alive to honor Deckard’s passion in saving stray cats and dogs.