A group of engineers from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that they were able to design the world’s first 3-D printer that can print 10 different types of materials at once and can embed new textures into one another.
Traditional 3-D printers can only print one material at a time, so making complex objects requires more time and patience. But the MIT 3-D printer, dubbed MultiFab, can reduce wait times and create complex objects that do not require assembly. Plus, the new technology is even cheaper than the past ones.
To this day, various research teams tried to create a multi-material 3-D printer that can generate complex functional items. So far, researchers were able to design printers that can use only 3 materials at a time and cost up to $250,000 each. Plus, there was still the need of humans in assembling the products.
Yet, a group of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) announced that they finally managed to create a brand new type of printer that is both easy to use and less expensive than other models.
The new 3-D printer can print objects made of 10 materials in a single try, uses high-end 3-D scanning techniques, and is less expensive and time consuming than older 3-D printers.
With a 40 micron resolution, MultiFab uses a revolutionary technique of 3-D scanning an object before multiplying it, which provides the machine with two advantages over conventional devices.
The new printer can self-correct, which spares users of additional hassles in pre-print phase. When dealing with a complex object, the printer’s system scans each layer separately, and if there are any calibrating errors it generates “correction masks.” This method allows users to use relatively inexpensive materials in the process and makes sure that the finished product is accurate.
Moreover, the printer allows users to embed already made components to printed materials so it can create really complex materials in a single move. For instance, it can embed a blade into a 3-D printed blade holder with no assembly.
Javier Ramos, one of the CSAIL researchers involved in the project, explained that the new device would allow both researchers and amateurs to design complex objects that were often nearly impossible to 3-D print.
So far, MIT researchers were able to 3-D print smartphone cases and LED lenses, but they plan to try and print more complex objects such as embedded electrical components and even robots. A MultiFab 3-D printer now costs about $7,000.
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