Scientists have found a way to speed up 3D printing 100 times.

Instead of the usual way of 3D printing complexObjects layer by layer using plastic yarns, scientists from the University of Michigan propose to use a different method, which allows not only to significantly increase the speed of the print itself, but also to increase the durability of the created object, along with its durability. The work describing their invention, published by the journal Science Advances. The press release of the project is published on the website of the university.

3D printing technologies are able to renderinvaluable assistance with relatively small production volumes, for example, where the creation of no more than 10,000 identical items is required. In this case, 3D printing can save on casting molds, the cost of which can be tens of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, the most common form of 3D printing today, when an object is created in layers, is not able to cope with the goal in a standard production period of two weeks.

“When using traditional approaches3D printing is simply impossible if you don’t have hundreds of such machines, ”commented study leader Timothy Scott, a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan who, together with colleague Mark Burns, presented a new approach to 3D printing.

The new method proposed by scientists includesself-curing liquid resin using two directional light sources. Using these light sources allows you to control where the resin hardens and where it remains liquid. This approach makes it possible to strengthen the resin in more complex models. For example, when using the new method, the researchers created a three-dimensional bas-relief at a time, rather than a series of one-dimensional lines or two-dimensional sections. As other examples, engineers from the University of Michigan thus printed a grid, a toy boat, and a letter-shaped M.

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"This is one of the truly first full-fledged 3D printers," says Burns.

The authors of the development clarify that one oflight sources are needed to start the hardening reaction, and the other is used to stop it, which allows you to precisely control printing in both time and space. The new method, however, has drawbacks: the resin tends to harden in the window through which the light passes, stopping printing as soon as it starts. At the same time, when creating a relatively large area where solidification does not occur, the thicker layers of resin — say, mixed with powdered additives — can be used to produce more durable objects. This method, compared to conventional printing using threads, also allows you to create more structurally reliable objects, since objects printed in the traditional way tend to have weak points at the interfaces between the layers.

Examples of objects created by Scott and Burns using a new 3D printing method:

"With this method, you can create significantly more durable and wear-resistant materials," - adds Scott.

The key to success was resin chemistry. In conventional systems, only one reaction occurs: the photo-activator makes the resin solid wherever the light shines. In the system developed by Scott and Burns, in addition to the photo-activator, a photo-inhibitor is also used, which reacts to a different wavelength of light. Instead of the usual control of solidification in a two-dimensional plane, as it usually happens when using modern printing methods, the Michigan team can use two types of light to harden the resin in almost any three-dimensional plane near the window.

The university has already filed three patent applications to protect many of the inventive aspects proposed in the new approach. Timothy Scott himself decided to open his own startup.

The future of home 3D printing

Although the technology of 3D printingexist on the market for several years, they have not yet become massive, although they promised to change the world. The benefits of such technologies are already evident in medicine and industry, but mass home 3D printing still seems like a distant prospect.

According to Mikhail Korolev, our expert in3D printing, one of the main problems associated with the lack of libraries with a wide choice of possible 3D-models. Even the most famous libraries have a lot of low quality content. Models are often not optimized for the capabilities of printers and may contain a large number of errors. At the same time, not everyone has the skills to independently create the necessary 3D-models.

Another issue is the speed of the print itself. It can take dozens of hours to create one thing. Developments similar to those presented by University of Michigan experts are aimed, among other things, at solving this problem.

At the same time, home tools foradditive production, with an appropriate level of consumer orientation, can become an indispensable tool for creating and restoring broken household items. I lost or broke the cover of the TV console - I downloaded the required model from the Internet and printed it on my home printer. Conveniently. In a few years, really, anyone can print at home any necessary thing: any spare parts for household appliances, furniture, parts for cars. In the meantime, all this is seen only by the sphere for enthusiasts, but the sphere is gradually evolving, which is good news.

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