New 3D Printing Method Takes Seconds - PCMag.com
|PCMag.com 14 Feb 2020 at 15:55|
Researchers at Switzerland s Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a new 3D printing method capable of producing high-precision objects in less than 30 seconds.
The most common 3D printing method in use today builds 3D objects layer-by-layer (additive), but it takes a long time with speed measured in millimeters per second. However, the researchers at EPFL went in a different direction and replaced additive printing with a method relying on light.
As EPFL explains , the researchers based their new technique on a type of imaging called tomography. It s most commonly used in medical imaging to create a model based on surface scans of an object. For 3D printing, a translucent plastic or biological liquid spins in a container while a laser passes through it. The laser beam is precisely aimed from multiple angles to harden the liquid in the required areas to form a solid object in just a few seconds.
For now, the 3D printer is limited to creating objects roughly 2cm in size with a precision of 80 micrometers, but the research team is already working towards 15cm objects.
Speed isn t the only advantage this new technique offers over additive printing. It can produce soft objects that won t fall apart, and because the object forms within a liquid it is guaranteed to be sterile. Trials have already been carried out with a surgeon to 3D print arteries, and the results were "extremely encouraging."
Solid objects can also be produced, with the best use case for this being a dentist with access to a 3D scanner able to produce 3D printed objects that perfectly fit your mouth during a routine visit.
Matthew is PCMag s UK-based editor and news reporter. Prior to joining the team, he spent 14 years writing and editing content on our sister site Geek.com and has covered most areas of technology, but is especially passionate about games tech. Alongside PCMag, he s a freelance video game designer. Matthew holds a BSc degree in Computer Science from Birmingham University and a Masters in Computer Games Development from Abertay University.