Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Digitally Fabricated World

By Don Olsen

Issue 13- Continuous Liquid 3D Printing

Welcome back everyone. This week I have something pretty exciting that was shared with me and so I will pass it on to all of you. A new 3D printing option is being developed to replace the current extruded plastic method. A group of scientists from the University of North Carolina have developed a continuous liquid 3D printing interface. What this means is that unlike conventional 3D printing methods, which use a heated extruder and platform to slowly add heated plastic layer by layer, this new method will use a platform and pool of molten material and "pull" the printed object out of the liquid material. This new method of printing utilizes a projector under the pool of liquid that will rapidly project section cuts in ultra violet light of the object. This process rapidly solidifies the plastic as the upside down platform raises the object out of the pool of material. Interestingly enough this process was inspired by the Terminator movie series, where the terminator reforms from a pool of molten metal. There are a number of benefits to this new printing method as well. By utilizing molten plastic there is little to no wasted materials in the printing process. Since there is less need for bracing or rafts used to stabilize current conventional prints more plastic is saved and can be used to create more prints. Having worked with conventional 3D printers a huge benefit is less moving parts. This could mean greater life spans for these machines and less issues. Beyond the platform everything else on the entire machine is stationary as you can see in figure 2. This is a huge benefit as most conventional 3D printers have a series of motors, plastic pulling systems, moving platforms, and other moving parts making them easily prone to having a multitude of issues. The last benefit is probably the most significant, time. Continuous liquid 3D printing is able to accomplish what takes hours in conventional printing in just minutes. The reason for its extreme efficiency is the method it uses to solidify the plastic. Conventional printers add one layer of plastic at a time where continuous liquid printers print and entire layer in one section flash from the projector. Though these printers are still very much in the testing phase they are an obvious step in the right direction. Please check out the video linked below. This is very much so a piece of sci-fi fiction becoming a reality. Till next time keep fabricating. 

You tube link:
photo credit: Vox Media

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting. I sounds like it will solve many of the problems of 3D Printers.

    The additive 3D printers have limited materials, but this liquid material may be more readily available.

    Liquid printing seems less clunky than adding layer by layer from the ground up and this could mean more accurate printouts.

    Speed. Obviously speed is an advantage over the additive 3D printers.

    Is the size of the printout a benefit, too? I know additive printers are limited to the size of their chambers but this liquid printer does not seem to have a chamber.