Experimental 3D printer uses laser holograms to crank out objects quickly

We love 3D printers, but they sure can take their sweet time to print something. Large objects can take several hours to make it from our desktops onto the print bed. Now, a team of researchers, led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, think they’ve found a better, much faster way. And for bonus “awesome tech” points, it involves using laser holograms.

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.


Forget folding phones, the Insta360 EVO camera folds in half to shoot 360 video

The Insta360 EVO is a...flip camera? Unfolded, the Insta360 Evo shoots 3D in 180 degrees, folded, the new camera shoots in 360 degrees. The EVO launches with what are essentially a pair of 3D glasses for your phone, not your face, the…
Smart Home

Switzerland’s 3D-printed, robot-built DFAB House is open for research

The DFAB House at ETH Zurich university is using digital construction, 3D printing, and robot assembly units to transform how homes are built, test new building technologies, and make construction smarter and more sustainable.

The new HP OfficeJet Pro’s smart app cuts your time spent scanning in half

The new HP OfficeJet Pro series offers faster print speeds, but the company says a new app with shortcut options allows users to cut the time spend working on scanning files in half.

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Opportunity’s final image is a haunting panorama of the Martian surface

The Opportunity mission to Mars may be no more, but the rover's legacy lives on. Now NASA has released the final image captured by Opportunity, and it's a stunning panorama of the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

A lunar time capsule: 50-year-old moon rock samples to be opened for study

Nearly 50 years after the Apollo missions to the Moon, NASA is breaking open samples of Moon rock for the first time. Samples collected from Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17 have been preserved and never before exposed to Earth's atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous image of the Cosmic Bat nebula leaves us starry-eyed

The "Cosmic Bat" nebula has been captured in beautiful detail by the European Southern Observatory. Formally known as NGC 1788, the nebula is two thousand light-years away in a dark corner of the Orion constellation.
Emerging Tech

Super telescope captures supermassive black holes forming billions of years ago

The Subaru Telescope in Hawaii has captured evidence of supermassive black holes forming in the ancient universe. Astronomers discovered 83 quasars powered by supermassive black holes from billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Mind-bending model shows Venus isn’t our nearest neighbor — it’s Mercury

Every textbook and table on the internet agrees -- the closest planet to Earth is Venus. But a new mathematical model shows that this is wrong. In fact, the planet closest to us on average is Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.
Emerging Tech

New Hubble image displays dazzling Messier 28 globular cluster

Messier 28 is a group of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius, located 18,000 light-years from our planet. Thousands of stars are packed tightly together in this sparkling image.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.