WaPo – A new 3-D printing technique creates solid objects using rays of light



  • created a 3-D printer that can create entire objects simultaneously instead of creating them one painstaking layer at a time like most printing techniques. The new approach — known as Computer Axial Lithography (CAL) — carves an object out of a synthetic resin that solidifies when it comes into contact with particular patterns and intensities of light 
  • rapidly prototype fairly small and transparent parts
  • process involves more than just light and gooey resin
  • printing begins with a computer model of a 3-D object, which is fed into a digital video projector
    • machine beams the images into a rotating cylinder that is full of the synthetic resin
  • As the container rotates, the pattern that’s projected changes, so over time the amount of light that each point receives can be controlled
    • Spots that receive a lot of light solidify, while those that do not remain liquid
  • requires only two minutes to complete
    • could be used to create “patient-specific medical devices” and “aerospace components,”
  • Unlike conventional 3-D printing, which can leave tiny ridges on the side of objects, researchers report that their technique produces “exceptionally smooth surfaces.”
  • “Printing 3-D structures around preexisting solid components is also possible with our approach. CAL is scalable to larger print volumes, and is several orders of magnitude faster, under a wider range of conditions, than layer-by-layer methods.”
  • the machine’s ability to print around other objects means the technique may one day result in customized handles for tools and sports equipment, as well as sophisticated contact lenses that contain electrical circuitry.

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