3D Printing in a Fraction of the Time
By using laser-generated, hologram-like 3D images flashed into photosensitive resin, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, along with academic collaborators, have discovered they can build complex 3D parts in a fraction of the time of traditional layer-by-layer printing. With this process, researchers have printed beams, planes, struts at arbitrary angles, lattices and complex and uniquely curved objects in a matter of seconds.
While additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing, is enabling engineers and scientists to build parts in configurations and designs never before possible, the impact of the technology has been limited by layer-based printing methods, which can take up to hours or days to build three-dimensional parts, depending on their complexity.
However, by using laser-generated, hologram-like 3D images flashed into photosensitive resin, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), along with collaborators at UC Berkeley, the University of Rochester and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have discovered they can build complex 3D parts in a fraction of the time of traditional layer-by-layer printing. The novel approach is called “volumetric” 3D printing, and is described in the journal Science Advances, published online Dec. 8.
“The fact that you can do fully 3D parts all in one step really does overcome an important problem in additive manufacturing,” said LLNL researcher Maxim Shusteff, the paper’s lead author. “We’re trying to print a 3D shape all at the same time. The real aim of this paper was to ask, ‘Can we make arbitrary 3D shapes all at once, instead of putting the parts together gradually layer by layer?’ It turns out we can.”
The way it works, Shusteff explained, is by overlapping three laser beams that define an object’s geometry from three different directions, creating a 3D image suspended in the vat of resin.