Traditional 3D printing begins at the bottom of an object and steadily adds layers, but a team of researchers from Penn State has come up with an innovative new way to print objects that is more efficient and faster than previous methods.
Called five-axis additive 3D-printing, the new method uses a movable build plate or extrusion arm to turn objects as they are printed, reducing the use of excess material and speeding up printing times.
One big aspect of waste eliminated with the new technology is “additive manufacturing” or support materials. For example, if you’re 3D printing a tree, supports must be steadily built up from the ground, along with the trunk, to print the branches and leaves, when that level of the print is reached. With the new movable method, the tree can be turned once the trunk is finished to add branches and leaves off the existing trunk, rather than supports.
These support structures are wasteful and costly, especially when printing objects using metal or other valuable materials, so eliminating them from the process really boosts efficiency.
Doctoral candidates Xinyi Xiaoa and Sanjay Joshi, who developed the printing technique, say there is still work to be done before the printer can be commercially manufactured and sold. Once it is finalized, we look forward to seeing the creations produced using this new method.
Image source: Make Magazine