Photo credit: EPFL | Alain Herzog
EPFL researchers at the Laboratory of Applied Photonics Devices (LAPD) have devised a high-precision method for 3D-printing small, soft objects in under 30-seconds from start to finish, which means that there are various potential applications in a wide range of fields, including 3D bioprinting. The process begins with a translucent liquid, and then darker spots begin to form in the small, spinning container until, 30-seconds later, the finished product takes shape. Read more for a video and additional information.
This new method has many advantages over existing ones, such as the ability to print solid parts of different textures, which make it ideally suited for medicine and biology. For example, the process could be used to make soft objects like tissue, organs, hearing aids and mouthguards. The printer works by sending a laser through the translucent gel (biological gel or liquid plastic), as necessary. It’s currently capable of making two-centimeter structures with a precision of 80 micrometers, but future models should be able to print objects up to 15 centimeters.
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Conventional 3D printing techniques, known as additive manufacturing, build parts layer by layer. The problem is that soft objects made that way quickly fall apart. The trial results were extremely encouraging,” said Damien Loterie, the CEO of Readily3D.