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Holographic 3D printer uses lasers to print thousands of times faster than its rivals

Why it matters to you

This experimental laser-powered 3D printer not only looks impossibly futuristic, it promises to be far faster than its rivals, too.

Fed up with the world-weary, jaded expressions of your additive manufacturing friends, who think they’ve seen it all when it comes to 3D printers?

If so, you may be interested in Daqri, an augmented reality startup, which has developed a cutting-edge hologram-powered 3D printer. If you’ve always felt that what was missing from 3D printing was green lasers and tubs of goo, this could be the technology you’ve been waiting for!

“This system uses our software-defined light modulators to 3D print in an entirely different way,” Brian Mullins, CEO of Daqri, told Digital Trends. “The modulator is able to change the speed of individual bundles of light and cause them to interfere into analog light fields. This is essentially an object made out of light in three dimensions. When we form one of these objects inside a monomer resin, the light starts a chain reaction and solidifies into a polymer. The reaction happens all at once and it doesn’t matter how big or small the object is — you get an instant 3D print.”

More: New 6-axis 3D printer can print complex objects with gravity-defying overhangs

Aside from making you look like a time traveler from the future, Daqri’s holographic printing technology has a practical advantage over traditional rival: speed.

“This method prints instantly, so it’s thousands of times faster than any other method on the market and, because of that, we don’t need support materials to hold the object together as we print,” Mullins continued. “We also are able to create structures in polymer that have uniform material properties, so that the materials are much more useful versus those that are printed one layer at a time.”

The printer isn’t quite ready to be unleashed on the public just yet. “We are working with partners now and hope to be able to power 3D printers with our software-defined light-print engine in the next 24 months,” he said.

Will it work as well as its creators claim? Will we all be 3D printing the light fantastic within the next few years? We’ll have to wait and see, but we’re giddily excited about trying out Daqri’s technology for ourselves at the earliest possible opportunity.

Or maybe that’s just the daiquiris talking.