Researchers Pioneer Significantly Faster 3D Printing Method

University of Michigan engineers say their technique can print two meters of material per hour — or 100 times more than similar stereolithography 3D printing systems.

New work from University of Michigan researchers may have significantly increased the speed of stereolithography 3D printing. 

SLA is typically slower, trading speed for precision. It uses an ultraviolet laser to harden a liquid resin.

The researchers, Timothy Scott and Mark Burns, have found a way to print two meters of material per hour, which is roughly 100 times faster than similar processes in the market. The work could make SLA a more viable option for mass production.

Traditional SLA machines use light to harden the liquid plastic layer by layer. This method uses one precise flash to solidify an entire object in a single step.

So far, the team has printed the University of Michigan logo, a tiny boat, and a lattice structure.

The researchers say this is one of "the first true 3D printers ever made.” Once the technology is more developed, it could drastically impact traditional manufacturing methods like injection molding.

But if you look at the little boat, you can tell that we still have some time before a commercial product launches.

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