New Process Drastically Cuts 3D Printing Times
A new 3D printing technique developed by University of Michigan researchers is producing results in one-one hundredth the time of conventional printers.
The technique extrudes solid objects from liquid resin by hardening the resin using multiple lights. The result is "a 3D bas-relief in a single shot rather than in a series of 1D lines or 2D cross-sections," according to U-M.
The resin itself is "key" to the printing process. Rather than merely solidifying when exposed to light, it also includes a photo-inhibitor that responds to a different light frequency. Multiple lights can control which portions of the resin solidify and which remain liquid.
"But the true 3D approach is no mere stunt — it was necessary to overcome the limitations of earlier vat-printing efforts. Namely, the resin tends to solidify on the window that the light shines through, stopping the print job just as it gets started," according to U-M. "By creating a relatively large region where no solidification occurs, thicker resins — potentially with strengthening powder additives — can be used to produce more durable objects. The method also bests the structural integrity of filament 3D printing, as those objects have weak points at the interfaces between layers."
"It's one of the first true 3D printers ever made," said Mark Burns, T.C. Chang Professor of Engineering at U-M, in a statement released by the university. Burns co-led the project with Timothy Scott, U-M associate professor of chemical engineering.
Scott reportedly intends to launch a start-up company based on the technology the researchers developed.
A paper detailing the process was recently published in the journal Science Advances.