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Light-Powered 3D Printer

Tech Crunch reports on a fascinating new light-powered 3D printer.  For now, its creators are calling it “The Replicator,” but seeing as how MakerBot owns this name when it comes to the realm of 3D printing, this is probably subject to change.

Publishing their results in the scientific journal Science, the team which developed “The Replicator” at UC Berkeley claims this printer builds objects “all at once, more or less, by projecting a video through a jar of light-sensitive resin.”

As Hayden Taylor, the team’s leader explains: “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 high.”

Before printing, the object is scanned “in such a way it can be divided into slices, a bit like a CT scanner, which is in fact the technology which sparked the team’s imagination in the first place.”

“By projecting light into the resin as it revolves, the material for the entire object is resolved more or less at once, or at least over a series of brief revolutions rather than hundreds or thousands of individual drawing movements.  This has a number of benefits besides speed. Objects come out smooth — if a bit crude in this prototype stage — and they can have features and cavities that other 3D printers struggle to create. The resin can even cure around an existing object, as they demonstrate by manifesting a handle around a screwdriver shaft.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch

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