Additive Manufacturing Takes A Leap Forward
Editor: “Is this is the real starting point where additive manufacturing could become a realistic alternative to many traditional means of production?”
The technique demonstrated in the video is like something out of science fiction and indeed the idea was inspired by that most famous of films – Terminator 2 : Judgement Day. The film where a terminator grows out of a puddle of liquid metal.
As we all know 3D printing is slow relative to conventional manufacturing. It is so much faster to take material away as opposed to adding it (e.g. milling, injection moulding, …).
Fused Decomposition Modelling
With additive manufacturing, layers have to be added one on top of another until the object finally appears. It is not only a pedestrian process but some engineers would argue that it is an ineffective technique for so many applications. In fact, it is essentially 2D printing over and over again. Moreover, the mechanical properties of parts made layer by layer are often left wanting with weaknesses or faults corresponding to the direction in which the object was built up.
As importantly, the range of materials is also fairly limited and there are structural integrity issues for components needed in high performance or safety critical environments. For example, nobody is going to make turbine blades with less than perfect structural dynamics and especially so when lives depend upon them as they power aircraft travelling at 500 mph at 35000 feet.
3D Printing 100x Quicker & With Smooth Surfaces
Joseph DeSimone CEO of Carbon3D and a professor at North Carolina University explains: what if a solid with the required structural integrity and dynamics could be grown (3D printed) at a rate 100 times faster than is possible today? In the video, he not only makes a claim to have done it but proves it by making a complex object in less than 10 minutes – right in front of the audience. An object chosen which can’t be made by conventional manufacturing means due to its geometry (symmetries) but also, one which would take many hours with a 3D printer using fused decomposition modelling.
What is more, the resulting solid is smooth, it possesses structural integrity and the technique used lends itself to a considerable range of materials. When we think of components that require elasticity, dampening characteristics or high tensile strength with a low density (e.g honeycomb structures, etc) then 3D printing struggles to meet those requirements. This technique called Continuous Liquid Interface Production could overcome those problems.
The TED video of course better explains than we could ever do how this process of using oxygen and light combine to make a new 3D printing technology possible. Enjoy! It may be our manufacturing future.