New 3D printing technology allows you to grow an entire object in a few seconds

The Laboratory of Applied Photonic Devices at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (Switzerland) has developed a technology for ultra-high-speed three-dimensional printing of objects. Its main advantage and difference from the usual additive printing in the absence of layers is that the entire object is created at once. True, there remain fundamental restrictions on the size and complexity of structures.

The technique is based on the principle of tomography, and a photosensitive polymer is used as a working substance. It is poured into a transparent container, which rotates evenly, and inside, as if by magic, a dense structure of a three-dimensional object begins to form. It remains only to drain the excess liquid and the product is ready.

The secret is that the polymer is irradiated with a laser with high precision and speed, the rays are focused on different points inside the container according to a predetermined pattern, forcing the polymer to crystallize in the irradiated area. Its dimensions are currently limited to a cube with a side of 80 micrometers, it is a kind of "pixel" for this method of 3D printing. The maximum dimensions of finished products do not exceed 2 cm, but engineers are ready to upgrade the installation to obtain 15 cm items.

The high speed of laser irradiation allows you to print a single object in just 30 seconds. However, due to the mechanical properties of the polymer, it does not have high performance properties - in particular, it is too soft. Therefore, the scope of application is still limited to trim elements or simple plastic products, such as soft earbuds for headphones.