Instead of the classic method of printing an object by putting down one layer at a time, the team’s new “holographic” printing technique utilizes special resins that solidify as soon as they are exposed to light. By shining three laser beams simultaneously at a vat filled with the resin, the researchers have showcased the ability to fabricate a 3D structure in only 10 seconds.
“We are demonstrating a new technology that can produce 3D objects instantly in just in a few seconds,” Nicholas Fang, associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Digital Trends. “This is not yet a replicator machine from Star Trek, but to my knowledge it is the fastest way to turn a design from the digital world to a physical copy. The fabrication process is much like the inverse of engineering drawings. In engineering drawings, we project the model of 3D parts with top views, front views, and right views. In our fabrication process, we send the images of these different views from three sides of a resin vat, allowing them to overlap in the volume of the liquid polymer. The parts that are exposed by all three intersecting beams will solidify, forming the desired shape in real time.”
Dr. Maxim Shusteff of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory told us that the technique can improve on existing 3D printing because it won’t create the same layering-based defects, such as zigzag or step-style surfaces, that come with regular additive manufacturing. “Although our parts aren’t particularly smooth yet, we’ve broken the conceptual barrier for how to get there,” Shusteff said. “I don’t think this will make other ways of doing additive manufacturing obsolete, but it adds a powerful new tool to the broad additive manufacturing toolset.”
A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Scientific Advances.
- Best cheap 3D printer deals for March 2021
- The best 3D printers under $500
- Ceramic ink could let doctors 3D print bones directly into a patient’s body
- The future of making stuff: Inside the evolution of 3D printing with Formlabs
- This house was 3D printed in 48 hours and finished in a week. Now, it’s for sale