Carl Deckard, Inventor of Selective Laser Sintering, has died

January 9, 2020

January 9, 2020

Carl Deckard, Inventor of Selective Laser Sintering, has died
Carl Deckard, recognised as the inventor of Selective Laser Sintering, has died (Courtesy AMUG)

Carl Robert Deckard, recognised as the inventor of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), passed away on December 23, 2019. Along with SLS, Deckard is also credited with inventing the Deckard Engine as well as a number of polymers for use in Additive Manufacturing. 

With twenty-seven patents, Deckard was profiled by Fortune magazine as one of five modern technology pioneers, inducted into the Manufacturing Hall of Fame by Industry Week, and named a Master of Manufacturing by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. 

Born in Houston on June 20, 1961 Deckard attended elementary school in Michigan, Ohio, and Port Arthur, Texas. After attending junior high in Clear Lake City, he moved back to Port Arthur and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. He attended the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he majored in Mechanical Engineering and went on to study for a Master’s degree. During a summer internship, he started to think about a new invention – a way to fabricate parts directly from drawings by using a laser to fuse together powder in the shape of the part and building up the piece, layer by layer. 

He worked with Dr Joe Beaman, a young assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering, to develop the process that became known as Selective Laser Sintering, one of the earliest and most enduring forms of Additive Manufacturing. The result of his Master’s project was an SLS plastic cube within another plastic cube and with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation, he continued working on his invention for his PhD under the direction of Dr Beaman. 

Deckard’s graduate work was so successful that UT agreed to license the technology in 1988, said to be the first time that UT had entered into such an agreement. This started the process of Deckard transforming his invention into a commercial product. In recent years, Carl worked with his collaborators, Jim Mikulak and Vikram Devarajan, to invent new polymers, making it possible to make better quality additively manufactured 3D parts. 

January 9, 2020

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

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  • Kennametal: The story of the successful commercialisation of AM hardmetal and steel solutions
  • General Atomics Aeronautical on metal Additive Manufacturing’s place at the centre of the digital manufacturing revolution
  • Adrian Keppler on Additive Manufacturing: An insider’s assessment from the outside
  • Metal AM’s journey to industrialisation: Are we there yet? And what does the destination even look like?
  • A stronger future, layer by layer: How next-generation software will drive adoption of metal AM
  • Volkmann: Making the case for the complete automation of powder handling in AM
  • Metal AM on an industrial scale: GKN Additive draws on decades of sintering expertise to commercialise Binder Jetting
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