Scientists have found a way to accelerate 3D printing 100 times

Instead of the usual method of 3D printing of complex objects layer by layer using plastic fibers, scientists from the University of Michigan propose to use a method that allows not only to significantly increase the speed of the press, but also to increase the durability of the object being created, together with its wear resistance. Paper describing their invention, published in the journal Science Advances. Press release of the project published on the University website.

The 3D printing technology is able to provide invaluable assistance at relatively low production volumes, for example, where required the creation of not more than 10 000 identical items. In this scenario, 3D printing allows you to save on the molds, the cost of which may be tens of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, the most common today, the form of 3D printing, when the object is created layer by layer, is not able to cope with the intended purpose for the standard production period of two weeks.

“When using traditional approaches of 3D-printing is impossible unless you have hundreds of these machines,” — says study leader Timothy Scott, Professor of engineering University of Michigan, who, together with colleague, mark burns has introduced a new approach to 3D printing.

A new method proposed by scientists involves the hardening liquid resin using two directional light sources. The use of these light sources allows you to control where the resin hardens, and remains liquid. This approach gives the opportunity to reinforce the resin in more complex models. For example, when using the new method, the researchers created a three-dimensional bas-relief at once, and not a series of one-dimensional lines or two-dimensional cross-sections. As other examples of engineers from the University of Michigan printed so the grille, the toy boat and the shape of the letter M.

“This is one of the really first full of 3D printers,” says burns.

The authors specify that one light source is needed to start a reaction curing, and the other is to stop it, allowing finer control over printing both in time and in space. The new method however has disadvantages: the resin has a tendency to solidify into a window through which the light travels, stopping the printing once it starts. At the same time, while creating a relatively large region, where there is hardening, thicker layers of resin — for example, with a mixture of powdered supplements — it can be used for the production of more durable objects. This method, compared to conventional printing using threads also allows you to create a more structurally reliable objects, because the objects printed in the traditional way, tend to have weak spots at the boundaries of the junction between the layers.

Examples of objects created by Scott and burns with the help of a new method of 3D printing:

“With the help of this method, you can create a much more durable and wear-resistant materials,” adds Scott.

The key to success was the chemistry of the resin. In ordinary systems there is only one reaction: a photo-activator makes the resin solid wherever the light shines. In the system developed by Scott and burns, in addition to the photo-activator used and photoinhibition, which responds to a different wavelength of light. Instead of the usual control of solidification in a two-dimensional plane, as is usually the case when using modern printing techniques, the Michigan team can apply two types of light curing resin in almost any three-dimensional plane near the window.

The University has already submitted three applications for filing patents to protect multiple inventive aspects of the proposed new approach. The Timothy Scott decided to open his own startup.

The future of home 3D printing

Despite the fact that the technology of 3D printing exist in the market for several years, the mass they do not yet began,the world promised to change. The benefits of such technologies are already apparent in medicine and industry, however, mass home 3D printing still seems a distant prospect.

According to Michael Queen, our expert in the field of 3D printing, one of the main problems associated with the lack of libraries with a wide selection of possible 3D models. Even in the most famous libraries lots of content of low quality. The model is often not optimized for the capabilities of your printers and can contain a large number of errors. In this case, not all have the skills to create the desired 3D model.

Another issue is the speed of the print. The creation of one thing can take dozens of hours. Development, such as the one presented by experts from the University of Michigan, directed including on the solution to this problem.

At the same time, home tools for additive manufacturing, with the appropriate level of consumer orientation, can become an indispensable tool to create and restore broken household items. Lost or broken the cover to the remote is downloaded from the Internet the right model and printed it on your home printer. Conveniently same. In a few years is really anyone will be able to print at home any necessary thing: any spare part for home appliances, furniture, detail for the car. Yet all this is seen exclusively in the area for enthusiasts, but the area is gradually developing, which can not but rejoice.