Public Release: 

A new 'twist' on 3D printing renders 'The Thinker,' and other objects

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Rotating photosensitive material while exposing it to an evolving light pattern allows for a new type of 3D printing in which printed components can encase other, pre-existing solid objects, researchers report. In printing times of under two minutes, the researchers demonstrated successful printing of a range of centimeter-scale objects with their technique; these objects included a tiny version of a famous Rodin sculpture. The method may be particularly useful for producing multi-component parts for applications in patient-specific medical devices, optics, microfluidics, aerospace components, and more. 3D printing - used in applications ranging from manufacturing to medical - is a printing approach in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object. In 3D printing, material such as liquid molecules or powder grains is typically added together layer by layer. This layer-by-layer approach, however, creates limitations with respect to the types of applications for which 3D printing is suitable; printing around a pre-existing object is particularly challenging. Here, Brett Kelly and colleagues have presented a different method for manufacturing objects in three dimensions - one that involves rotating photosensitive material in a dynamically evolving light field. This approach allows the printing of entire, complex objects through one complete revolution, circumventing the need for layering. Kelly and team demonstrated printing times of 30 to 120 seconds for a range of centimeter-scale objects (see video), including a rendering of the famous Rodin sculpture, "The Thinker."

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