A new 3D printer uses light to transform gooey liquids into complex solid objects in only a matter of minutes.
Nicknamed the “replicator” by the inventors — after the Star Trek device that can materialize any object on demand — the 3D printer can create objects that are smoother, more flexible and more complex than what is possible with traditional 3D printers. It can also encase an already existing object with new materials — for instance, adding a handle to a metal screwdriver shaft — which current printers struggle to do.
The technology has the potential to transform how products from prosthetics to eyeglass lenses are designed and manufactured, the researchers say.
“I think this is a route to being able to mass-customize objects even more, whether they are prosthetics or running shoes,” said Hayden Taylor, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley and senior author of a paper describing the printer, which appears online today (Jan. 31) in the journal Science.
“The fact that you could take a metallic component or something from another manufacturing process and add on customizable geometry, I think that may change the way products are designed,” Taylor said.
Most 3D printers, including other light-based techniques, build up 3D objects layer by layer. This leads to a “stair-step” effect along the edges. They also have difficulties creating flexible objects because bendable materials could deform during the printing process, and supports are required to print objects of certain shapes, like arches.
The new printer relies on a viscous liquid that reacts to form a solid when exposed to a certain threshold of light. Projecting carefully crafted patterns of light — essentially “movies” — onto a rotating cylinder of liquid solidifies the desired shape “all at once.”
“Basically, you’ve got an off-the-shelf video projector, which I literally brought in from home, and then you plug it into a laptop and use it to project a series of computed images, while a motor turns a cylinder that has a 3D printing resin in it,” Taylor said. “Obviously there are a lot of subtleties to it — how you formulate the resin, and, above all, how you compute the images that are going to be projected, but the barrier to creating a very simple version of this tool is not that high.”
Taylor and the team used the printer to create a series of objects, from a tiny model of Rodin’s “The Thinker” statue to a customized jawbone model. Currently, they can make objects up to four inches in diameter.
“This is the first case where we don’t need to build up custom 3D parts layer by layer,” said Brett Kelly, co-first author on the paper who completed the work while a graduate student working jointly at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “It makes 3D printing truly three-dimensional.”
A CT scan — in reverse
The new printer was inspired by the computed tomography (CT) scans that can help doctors locate tumors and fractures within the body.
CT scans project X-rays or other types of electromagnetic radiation into the body from all different angles. Analyzing the patterns of transmitted energy reveals the geometry of the object.
“Essentially we reversed that principle,” Taylor said. “We are trying to create an object rather than measure an object, but actually a lot of the underlying theory that enables us to do this can be translated from the theory that underlies computed tomography.”
Besides patterning the light, which requires complex calculations to get the exact shapes and intensities right, the other major challenge faced by the researchers was how to formulate a material that stays liquid when exposed to a little bit of light, but reacts to form a solid when exposed to a lot of light.
“The liquid that you don’t want to cure is certainly having rays of light pass through it, so there needs to be a threshold of light exposure for this transition from liquid to solid,” Taylor said.
The 3D printing resin is composed of liquid polymers mixed with photosensitive molecules and dissolved oxygen. Light activates the photosensitive compound which depletes the oxygen. Only in those 3D regions where all the oxygen has been used up do the polymers form the “cross-links” that transform the resin from a liquid to a solid. Unused resin can be recycled by heating it up in an oxygen atmosphere, Taylor said.
“Our technique generates almost no material waste and the uncured material is 100 percent reusable,” said Hossein Heidari, a graduate student in Taylor’s lab at UC Berkeley and co-first author of the work. “This is another advantage that comes with support-free 3D printing.”
The objects also don’t have to be transparent. The researchers printed objects that appear to be opaque using a dye that transmits light at the curing wavelength but absorbs most other wavelengths.
“This is particularly satisfying for me, because it creates a new framework of volumetric or ‘all-at-once’ 3D printing that we have begun to establish over the recent years,” said Maxim Shusteff, a staff engineer at the Livermore lab. “We hope this will open the way for many other researchers to explore this exciting technology area.”
Indrasen Bhattacharya of UC Berkeley is co-first author of the work. Other authors include Christopher M. Spadaccini of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The Latest on: Volumetric 3D printing
via Google News
The Latest on: Volumetric 3D printing
- This 3D-printed foam expands up to 40 times its original sizeon May 8, 2020 at 1:11 pm
Until now, the size of 3D-printed objects has been limited by the size of 3D printers. In most cases, in order to produce large items used in, say, aerospace, manufactures have had to fasten, weld or ...
- Fresh Creality CR-6 SE 3D printer delivers simplicity with auto-leveling, moreon May 7, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Creality CR-6 SE focuses on easy of use with auto-leveling technology, easy assembly, and a built-in handle to make transportation simple.
- Creality CR-6 SE 3D Printer Kit hits Kickstarter from $265on May 7, 2020 at 2:15 am
The development team at Creality have return to Kickstarter this week to launch their latest 3D printer in the form of the Creality CR-6 SE 3D printer ...
- The 3D Printer Manufacturer's Guide to High-Performance Linear Motionon May 6, 2020 at 10:36 am
State-of-the-art high-performance linear motion is dramatically advancing industrial 3D printing. Learn the best practices you need to select a system to ensure the high rigidity, speed, and precision ...
- 3DEO Posts Triple Digit Annual Growth with Next Generation Metal 3D Printingon May 5, 2020 at 4:32 pm
DEO started as a 3D printing company with its revolutionary metal 3D printing technology, Intelligent Layering®, at the core. But in order to compete ...
- CAD MicroSolutions Set to Break 3D Printing Speed Barrier with Nexa3D Partnershipon May 4, 2020 at 6:52 am
CAD MicroSolutions Inc., a leading service partner and distributor of 3D technology in Canada, has signed an Elite Reseller Agreement with Nexa3D to d ...
- New 3D metal printer uses LED light sourceon May 4, 2020 at 6:23 am
Researchers at Graz University of Technology have created a new type of 3D printer that uses LED instead of laser sources for additive manufacturing of metal parts. The new 3D printer can optimize ...
- 3D Metal Printing Revolutionized With New Technologyon May 3, 2020 at 4:49 am
LED instead of laser or electron beam. Selective LED-based melting (SLEDM) — i.e. the targeted melting of metal powder using high-power LED light sources — is the name of the new technology that a ...
- ORION 3D Printer launches via Kickstarter from £649on May 1, 2020 at 3:51 am
A new 3D printer has been launched via Kickstarter this month by 3D Create, a small team of engineers based in the United Kingdom. ORION's print volume ...
- New technology revolutionizes 3D metal printingon April 30, 2020 at 6:17 am
A technology developed at Graz University of Technology uses LED instead of laser sources for the additive manufacturing of metal parts and optimizes 3D metal printing in terms of construction time, ...
via Bing News