New 3D Printer Uses Light Instead of Plastic

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People now see hardware design different thanks to 3D printing which until now was quite limited either: the objects are built from the bottom up layer by layer. However, UC Berkeley came up with a different system that projects a video through a jar of light-sensitive resin, so the object gets built all at once.

The device, which its creators call the replicator (but shouldn’t, because that’s a MakerBot trademark), is mechanically quite simple. It’s hard to explain it better than Berkeley’s Hayden Taylor, who led the research:

The device is called by its creators the replicator, but that should not be allowed as it is a MakerBot trademark. It is not mechanically hard as the person who led the research, Berkeley’s Hayden Taylor, explains.

The device contains an off-shelf-video projector, which the creator says he brought from home, that can be plugged into a laptop and used to projects a series of computer images while a cylinder that has 3D-printing resin in it is turned by a motor.

As you might think, this is not the whole stories. There are a lot of subtleties that need to be kept in mind such as how the images are computed, how the resin is formulated, and many more.

We have heard about using light to print before as many devices use either lasers or other types of emitted light into the material, so the desired patterns get hard. However, this still does not happen all at once. A holographic printing method has been demonstrated by researchers who used intersecting beams of light, but that story is not that easy.

Do you think the future of 3D printing is revolutionized thanks to this creation or there is still a way to go until we can consider it completely useful?