A new type of 3D printer developed that uses rays of light to turn liquids into solids in a matter of minutes by the Berkeley researchers. Dubbed ‘The Replicator’ by its creators referencing the famous Star Trek technology.
The new device can form objects, smoother, faster and with more complex than traditional 3D printers. The printer could completely change the way products are imagined and prototyped.
“The fact that you could take a metallic component or something from another manufacturing process and add on customization geometry, I think that may change the way products are designed,” Hayden Taylor professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley said.
Traditional 3D printers build up objects layer by layer in either plastic or metal. The Replicator uses a gooey liquid that turns to a solid when exposed to different thresholds of light.
It works when carefully calibrated light waves are projected onto a rotating cylinder of liquid which transforms the object ‘all at once’.
In a series of test prints, Taylor and his team made several small objects including a tiny replica of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’.
The printer can currently make objects up to four inches in diameter. “This is the first case where we don’t need to build up custom 3D parts layer by layer,” said Brett Kelly.
The Replicators inventors have filed a patent but hope to share their knowledge with other researchers who will continue to develop the technology.