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How light boosts 3D printing

January 30, 2019

 

Researchers from the University of Michigan have discovered a new method of 3D printing which can significantly boost its speed.

This method, as SPACE DAILY reports, “lifts complex shapes from a vat of liquid at up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes” and involves the use of two lights “to control where the resin hardens – and where it stays fluid.”

As a result, the resin can be solidified “in more sophisticated patterns”, and the researchers have been able to create items such as “a lattice, a toy boat and a block M.”

“It’s one of the first true 3D printers ever made,” comments Mark Burns, T.C. Chang Professor of Engineering at the university.

This new approach, using lights, was devised in order to “overcome the limitations of earlier vat-printing efforts”, and can be used to create “more durable objects”; it also “bests the structural integrity of filament 3D printing, as those objects have weak points at the interfaces between layers.”

In contrast to current vat-printing, the researchers can “pattern the two kinds of light to harden the resin at essentially any 3D place near the illumination window.”

The University of Michigan has filed three patent applications regarding this new method and Timothy Scott, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, who co-led the research team, “is preparing to launch a start-up company.”

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