New 3D Printing Technique Creates Objects From Opaque Resins, Demonstrate Researchers
A team of EPFL engineers has developed a new 3D printing technique that uses light to create objects from opaque resins in seconds. This groundbreaking discovery could have promising applications in the biomedical industry, such as in the production of artificial arteries.
In early 2017, engineers from EPFL's Laboratory of Applied Photonic Devices developed a 3D printer capable of producing objects almost instantaneously.
Five years later, the team has improved the printing machine and method and can now make objects out of opaque resin, something that wasn't possible before.
EPFL's 3D printer is one of the fastest in the world in terms of functional speed. Most 3D printers apply material layer by layer in a process called additive manufacturing, while the EPFL printer uses a volumetric process.
The resin is poured into a container and spun, explains one of the research team members.
Then, the container is irradiated with light at different angles to solidify the resin when the energy collected in the resin exceeds a certain level. The method is extremely precise and can produce objects with the same resolution as existing 3D printing methods.
The engineers' volumetric method can be used for objects of any shape, and they decided to test it by making a tiny Yoda. The figure took only 20 minutes to make compared to about ten minutes for the traditional additive manufacturing process.
In fact, the light beams are able to solidify the resin by interacting with a light-sensitive plastic compound. The process works when the light only passes through the resin in a straight line without deviation.
So far, transparent resin has been used, but it needs to be tested whether objects can also be printed in opaque resin, as used in the biomedical industry.
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