Anyone who owns a 3D printer knows the pain of waiting for a large print to finish. Creating even modestly sized objects can take hours and sometimes its just easier to buy or get the object made with traditional manufacturing.
Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering claim they have developed a faster 3D printing process that they are now using to develop and fabricate heterogeneous objects, which comprise multiple materials.
In simple terms, the USC’s 3D printer uses liquid resin rather than plastic filament and a projected 2D laser image process to create objects. The 2D image eliminates the need for a single laser to move back and forth to create a layer. Once the resin 3D printer is finished it is then cured by UV light projected onto it.
Additionally, the USC Viterbi team developed a two-way movement design for bottom-up projection so that the resin could be quickly spread into uniform thin layers. This means that printing time is measured in minutes rather than hours.
The team at USC have also figured out how to use their printing process for multiple material print jobs. The multi-material part of the printer works by applying the laser image for a different amount of time depending on the material used. This is because materials harden at a different rate. The researchers now want to work on automating the process, which would make it more accessible to the average 3D printer user.
This new 3D printing process will allow for multi-material prototypes and objects such as medical implants and models to be fabricated more cost effectively with a reduced build time.