In the last decade, despite significant advancement in 3D printing techniques, the technology continues to face fundamental limitation: objects need to be constructed layer by layer, even if they don’t need to.
In a new development, researchers at the Rowland Institute, Harvard University have developed a method to print 3D objects within a stationary mass of resin. The thick resin fully supports the printed object, which can be visualized as an action figure floating in the middle of a Jell O making it feasible to add from any angle. Therefore, this removes the need for support structures typically needed for creating complex designs with more standard printing methods.
The novel 3D printing system recently published in Nature could make it easier to print increasingly complex designs, and at the same time save time and material.
Importantly, the ability for volumetric printing enables to print objects that were previously extremely difficult, stated one of the researchers. This opens exciting opportunity for 3D printing going forward.
In fact, the technique appears relatively straightforward at its surface. Using a lens, the researchers focused a laser and radiated it into a gelatinous resin that toughens when exposed to blue light.
The team of researchers, however, were not able to use a blue laser because the resin would treat along the complete length of the beam. This made the researchers use red light, and some smartly designed nanomaterials spread throughout resin to form blue light at only the exact focal point of the laser. The shifting of laser around the container of resin enabled the researchers to create detailed support-free prints.
Meanwhile, the lab specializes in conversion one wavelength of light into another using a technique called triplet fusion up conversion.