Experts say that 3D printing will change the world, because many of the sectors we currently know will have to adapt to the revolution that means that any of us, in our house, are able to make anything: a cup, a spoon, a frame for paintings and even, with special machinery, a whole house.
In addition, until today, all these 3D printing techniques were quite established and, depending on the material we wanted to use, the principle was the same: a head is sculpted, layer by layer and from bottom to top, each of the parts that form the object. But all that could jump through the air after what was discovered by a group of Swiss researchers.
Scientists who work at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, where they have found a new way to print 3D objects that throws away all the previous conventions. It not only saves time, but it has absolutely amazing precision and is capable of manufacturing each new model in one piece, without the need for a subsequent finishing process.
The first steps of a new technology
This new technique, which has been developed by the EPFL researchers, not only takes a few seconds to print a 3D object, but it does so from a single block of material and, in addition, it has a precision in the layout that It is measured in micrometers. This represents an extraordinary advance for areas such as medicine or biology, where it will be possible to build, as usual, soft objects such as tissues, organs, hearing aids …
The method they have used to develop this technology is based on a basic principle of tomography, since it uses a cross-sectional representation of an object to, using X-rays and ultrasound, illuminate a piece of resin from different angles to solidify it giving it the shape necessary. That is to say, it would be something like what Michelangelo said about the rocks he sculpted: “How can I make a sculpture? Simply removing the marble block from everything that is not necessary.”
According to Paul Delrot, CTO of Readily3D – company created specifically to market this technology – “It’s about light. […] The laser hardens the liquid through a polymerization process. Depending on what we are building, we use algorithms to calculate exactly where we need to aim the rays, from what angles and at what dose.”
At this time, this new 3D printing technology is only capable of creating objects of a size of about two centimeters, with an accuracy of 80 micrometers – like a small strand of hair. However, they are convinced that they can scale the machine they have developed to print larger models, up to 15 centimeters. So much so that, from the EPFL, they affirm that “The process could also be used to quickly build small pieces of silicone or acrylics that do not need finishing after printing.”