A new 3D printer does away with SLS layering, and is able to print gravity-defying cables in three dimensions.
This is the sort of thing that has to be seen to be believed. The current crop of 3D printers on the market require a printing bed, and the objects produced thereon are printed in fine layers. As there is a waiting period before the material dries, the object can only be built from the ground up.
Mataerial (a portmanteau of "material" and "aerial") is different. Using a special thermosetting plastic that dries instantaneously, it is able to print on surfaces of pretty much any inclination. It was designed by students Petr Novikov and Saša Jokić from Barcelona's Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, during an internship at Joris Laarman Lab.
The pair said on their website, "This patent-pending method allows for creating 3D objects on any given working surface independently of its inclination and smoothness, and without a need of additional support structures."
The printer itself is unlike any 3D printer we've seen — except, perhaps, for the Kickstarted 3Doodler pen. It consists of an extrusion nozzle and cartridges containing two different kinds of plastic mounted on a robot arm that can be programmed to print the 3D files. As the plastics mix in the nozzle, a chemical reaction causes it to harden as it emerges. Mounted either side of the nozzle are two small blow-heaters that speed the setting of the plastic. This makes it possible to print curves on surfaces at any angle.
And, according to the website, the Mataerial can print in colour by injecting CMYK-mode dyes into the plastic as it exits the nozzle.
Called "Anti-Gravity Object Modelling", the technique and device are awaiting patent. "Unlike 2D layers that are ignorant to the structure of the object, the 3D curves can follow exact stress lines of a custom shape. Finally, our new out-of-the-box printing method can help manufacture structures of almost any size and shape," the designers said.
Check it out for yourself in the video below.