We can all agree 3D printers are a disruptive technology in manufacturing and prototyping industries. One down fall is that some printers take a relatively long time to complete a part depending on size and complexity. MIT has created a super-charged 3D printer to help solve this issue.
Imagine if you could create a small prototype in just a few minutes. Or even create a larger piece during your lunch break. Well with some minor upgrades, MIT researchers have discovered how to drastically increase the speed of 3D printing on a desktop-scale.
MIT grad student, Jamison GO and his professor, John Hart wanted to improve the print speed of 3D printers. John Hart is becoming a household name in the 3D printing industry. He is also one of the cofounders of Desktop Metal. So it is no surprise he is impacting the industry in another big way.
The pair of 3D printing enthusiast pinpointed the bottlenecks of standard 3D printers. They discovered the rate at which extruders move, the force on the filament coming through the extruder, and the low heating capacity of 3D printers were the three main issues highlighted by Jamison and John.
As you can see in the video, Jamison and John have been quite successful with their improvements. To fix these issues, the two of them used a laser, a specialized screw, and a high-speed gantry.
The laser enables the machine to heat the material much faster. Since the material is melting faster, it needs to move through the extruder faster. This is where the specialized screw comes into play. It adds more force on the filament pushing it through the nozzle. Faster melting and feeding of filament calls for faster movement from the extruder. The high-speed gantry steps in and allows the mechanism to quickly move and guide the filament.
The much improved speed of the 3D printer will allow engineers and designers to work more efficiently. People can now design, build, and test parts much more frequently.
Now I am sure you’re thinking how does the print quality and layer resolution hold up with such speed. Unfortunately, this is still an issue with the increased speed. With the higher temperature to melt the material and quicker movements, layers do not always have enough time to solidify. This will result in some deformity as a second layer will get printed on a molten layer.
Go and Hart are currently working on a way to rapidly cool the freshly printed filament. If successful, we should see these innovations catch on rather quickly.
News via: MIT Technology Review