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  • By just using rays of light, this new 3D printersculptsobjects all at once, making

  • it one of the first designs of its kind.

  • This latest method coming from UC Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Lab

  • is called Computed Axial Lithography, or CAL for short.

  • It uses a newer technique called volumetric printing.

  • HAYDEN TAYLOR: Volumetric printing is a category of additive manufacturing, where all points

  • inside the 3D objects are materialized or created pretty much

  • Simultaneously, as opposed to building up the geometry, layer by layer, which is how

  • virtually every other existing additive manufacturing process works today.

  • So CAL is printing smooth complex geometries like those found in the statue The Thinker;

  • there are no symmetrical sides and no hardstaircaselooking edges, which is totally

  • novel!

  • Another promising feature of this device is calledoverprintingwhich is when they

  • can take objects and print around them.Like taking the metal component of a screwdriver

  • and printing the handle.

  • This is a technique that our additive manufacturing printers today, have trouble accomplishing.

  • You see, even other liquid printers, like those that use Stereolithography, are not

  • considered volumetric.

  • Although Stereolithography printers also use a bath of resin, theyre still printing

  • objects layer by layer, slowing pulling the object out and selectivity curing sections

  • with a light in a process called photopolymerization.

  • Researchers for CAL eliminated this long process.

  • Since CAL can print within minutes and is special since it can print all at once too,

  • and it’s still a very new technology.

  • HAYDEN TAYLOR: Computed axial lithography, you mean?

  • The merging of the relative rotation to build up.a 3D intensity dose with fabrication.

  • This is the first demonstration of that approach.

  • The original proof of principle was done in 2017 by a big collaboration between the Lawrence

  • Livermore National Lab, MIT, UC Berkeley, and University of Rochester.

  • They used three intersecting stationary beams, and at the points they intersected, the intensity

  • of light was high enough to cause the resin to solidify.

  • But this early project was limited by simple shapes.

  • So Hayden and the team wanted to create something with some versatility and curves.

  • HAYDEN TAYLOR: The principle of the CT scan, the computed tomography scan, came to mind.

  • We thought, "Well, let's just reverse that to create objects instead of measuring them.

  • By calculating what an image would look like from many different angles, researchers put

  • the resulting images into a DLP, ordigital light processingprojector.

  • (Sounds fancy, but it’s really just an ordinary digital projector from a store.)

  • From there they pointed the projector at a light-sensitive resin.

  • HAYDEN TAYLOR: And so, as that volume of material rotates quite steadily, the pattern that is

  • being projected into the volume is changing there are rays of light that are controlled

  • in the brightness, and as they shined through, photons are getting absorbed out of that beam

  • at a particular rate.

  • When that amount of absorbed light energy goes above a certain threshold value, the

  • resin will become solid and then the part is formed.

  • So a key part of this whole process is this resin.

  • It’s a synthetic material called gelatin methacrylate hydrogel and it’s made of a

  • few components; liquid polymers (which have acrylate at the ends), photoinitiators (which

  • are molecules that react to photons), and oxygen.

  • The researchers keep the gel at room temperature so the oxygen can evenly distribute.

  • But when a light is shined into the material, the molecules within the photoinitiators become

  • reactive and a few things can happen.

  • HAYDEN TAYLOR: First, they could interact with the oxygen and become what is called

  • quenched.

  • So, the reactive molecule stops being reactive and is basically dead.

  • When I say that there's a threshold for light, it's really the presence of the oxygen that

  • creates this sharp threshold.

  • You've got to consume the oxygen before you could do the solidification.

  • This threshold process is extremely important because technically, those rays of light are

  • going through the entire resin, even the parts you don’t have to solidify.

  • The acrylate in the polymers goes through what’s called polymerization, which is when

  • resin molecules link together in chains to make a solid plastic.

  • And within a few minutes, the researchers have a solid small structure like that of

  • The Thinker.

  • The resin is a flexible material to work with because it’s cheap, malleable, and reusable.#

  • We can possibly customize sports equipment, tools, lenses, or even prosthetic devices.

  • But to go beyond the centimeter scale the researchers are at now, they need to evaluate

  • the resin formula.

  • AND what about biocompatibility?

  • HAYDEN TAYLOR: Wow, that is a really excellent question, and actually, the subject of our

  • ongoing research.

  • We know that other research groups have successfully used gelatin methacrylate in conjunction with

  • cells in vitro.

  • That's a huge positive sign for us.

  • So while this is the latest and breaking research, it’s probably only going to get better from

  • here on out.

  • So How much do you know about 3D printers?

  • Does this project excite you?

  • Let us know down in the comments below and if you liked this project, check out this video. And don’t

  • forget to subscribe to Seeker for all your material science updates and I’ll see you next time.

By just using rays of light, this new 3D printersculptsobjects all at once, making

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