A newly discovered process developed by researchers at the University of Michigan could make faster 3D printing possible by a factor of 100.
For as revolutionary and exciting the prospect of manufacturing using 3D printing is, it has often been an unrealistic premise. This is mainly down to the overall speed that the process currently takes. For the constant demands the manufacturing industry is under, prints taking weeks to complete often rules 3D printing out as an option. However, a research team at the University of Michigan claims to make faster 3D printing possible using a newly discovered method that involves ‘Duel-wavelength volumetric photopolymerization confinement’.
How the Faster 3D Printing Method Works
Whilst the regular method involves building up singular plastic filament layers, the new method instead lifts more complex shapes from a vat of liquid resin. As a result, the process becomes up to 100 times quicker than the conventional method to create 3D prints. Much of the success from this comes from the liquid resin using two separate lights which control where the resin hardens and where it remains a fluid substance. This means that the team could then solidify the resin into more complex patterns and shapes. Rather than creating a series of 1D lines or 2D cross-sections out of filament, their method can create 3D prototypes in one attempt.
Mark Burns, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering and co-leader of the research team behind the project, further explains:
“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.”
Timothy Scott, U-M Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering who co-led the research with Burns, emphasizes Burns’ main points, stating:
“You can get much tougher, much more wear-resistant materials.”
How Could This Affect Industries Going Forward?
It goes without saying that this newly discovered 3D printing method is likely to greatly interest the manufacturing industry. At this stage, the University of Michigan has already processed three patent applications for the technology. Additionally, Scott is planning to launch a new startup which aims to help bring machines using their method to the general market.
Increasing the speed and reliability is likely to make many businesses include 3D printing in their plans going forwards. In general, its impact could be monumental when it comes to research and industry use.
As 3D printing discoveries go, this is certainly a major one and something to keep an eye on over the next few years.
Science Daily – 3D printing 100 times faster with light