New 3D printing technique creates objects from opaque resins, demonstrate researchers


In a new development, a team of engineers at EPFL have developed a 3D printing technique that employs light to create objects from opaque resins in a matter of seconds. The breakthrough finding could have promising applications in biomedical industry such as in the making of artificial arteries.

Earlier in 2017, engineers at Laboratory of Applied Photonic Devices, EPFL designed a 3D printer capable of creating objects almost instantaneously.

Five years hence, the team has improved the printing machine and method, and can create objects made of opaque resin which was never possible earlier.

In rems of function, 3D printer at EPFL is one of the fastest in the world. On the other hand, most 3D printers work by securing a material layer by layer in a process known as additive manufacturing, whilst EPFL one uses volumetric method.

The resin is poured into a container and spun, stated one of the research associates.

This is followed by shining light at different angles on the container to cause the resin to solidify wherever the collected energy in the resin surpasses a given level. The method is extremely precise and can generate objects of same resolution as existing 3D printing methods.

The volumetric method of engineers can be used for objects of any shape, and this engineers decided to test by creating a tiny Yoda. This involved only 20 minutes to create the figurine versus around ten minutes employing traditional additive-manufacturing process.

In fact, the light rays are able to solidify the resin by interaction with a photosensitive compound plastic. The method works if only light passes through the resin in a straight line without deviation.

So far, transparent resin has been used but it is required to see if objects could be printed in the kind of opaque resin used in the biomedical industry.

Edward Turner

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