For years, 3D printing has become a hugely important part of the tech world. Offering people the chance to print objects that would previously have taken ages to manufacture, it’s been a technology with many pros and very few cons. However, 3D printing looks set to take another jump into the unknown with the production of a light-powered 3D printer system.
This new platform by UC Berkeley is likely to change the way that 3D printing takes place, as this is capable of building every layer of the required object at once, instead of layer-by-layer. While other 3D printers need to do everything on a piece-by-piece basis, this goes on a totally different route.
Thanks to the device which is being developed, we could see a huge jump forward in how this industry works.
Speaking about this was Hayden Taylor, the research lead at UC Berkeley on this project, who said: “Basically, you’ve got an off-the-shelf video projector, which I literally brought in from home, and then you plug it into a laptop and use it to project a series of computed images, while a motor turns a cylinder that has a 3D-printing resin in it.
“Obviously there are a lot of subtleties to it — how you formulate the resin, and, above all, how you compute the images that are going to be projected, but the barrier to creating a very simple version of this tool is not that high.”
While using light-based techniques to create patterns is not new in itself, doing it in this manner almost certainly is. This manages to also break the mold as it allows the whole system to do it all at once, instead of the layer-by-layer approach mentioned above: that’s a massive step forward.
Smooth, Safe And Simple
One of the biggest reasons why this is such a huge progression, though, is the fact that the objects tend to come out very smooth. Yes, they will obviously need some more work and tend to come out looking like a prototype, but they can often include features that other 3D printers would probably struggle to create.
It can even be used to help cure the resin around an already present product, which is something other printers would not be able to manage. All uncured resin used within can be re-used, too, which makes this a touch more eco-friendly than other 3D printers.
While it’s unlikely that we’ll see this kind of 3D printer on the market anytime soon, it’s made more than enough of a positive first impression to ensure that it should become the focus of 3D printing for a long time to come. One thing is for sure: the already advanced 3D printing industry might be about to take another vital step forward.