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MIT Develops Desktop 3D Printer Capable of Printing 7-10x Faster Than Competitors

3Ders ran a recent report concerning yet more 3D printing-related research going on at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Apparently, Professors Jamison Go and John Hart of the Mechanosynthesis Group have developed a desktop 3D printer capable of printing 7-10 times faster than competitors.

In order to accomplish this, the researchers developed new hardware they have dubbed FastFFF, or “fast fused filament fabrication.”

“Desktop 3D printers are fantastic at creating high-quality and complex parts on demand, but their greatest weakness has always been speed. They can only print one object at a time, one thin layer at a time. And there are several speed-limiting factors to FDM/FFF 3D printers, with the main four being: the amount of force that can be applied to the filament as it’s pushed through the nozzle, how quickly heat can be transferred to the filament to melt it, how fast the printhead can move around the build area, and the rate that the material solidifies after it’s extruded because it needs to support the next layer.  The solidifying problem they solved like most other developers, by blasting air at it. The remaining hurdles required more creativity.”

The MIT researchers jumped over these hurdles by threading the filament and running it through a threaded nut; “when the nut is turned by a motor (via belt), the filament goes down. Anti-twist rollers prevent the filament from twisting as the nut turns. This method of extrusion is not only faster but also much more precise than the typical drive gear setup.”

Next the researchers utilized lasers and a servo-driven parallel gantry system.  As a result, their new printer was able to scorch the competition (which included a $100,000 commercial 3D printer) in speed tests.  However, it is important to note their 3D printer “cost $15,000 so it isn’t likely to hit the market any time soon.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders

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