Friday, 20 May, 2011 Technology

Latest Invention: Compact 3D Printer


A team of researchers from the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) managed to develop a small prototype of a 3D printer.

Prof. Jurgen Stampfl from the TU Vienna together with a group of engineers assembled the device. The resin, used by the apparatus to maker objects, was developed by a group of chemists headed by Prof. Robert Liska.

It is worth mentioning that the compact 3D printer makes use of a system that researchers call "additive manufacturing technology". The system involves the formation of layers one at a time.

In regard to this printer, the manufacturing process begins with some resin in a small tub. High-intensity beams of LED light are used to heat the precise areas of the resin so they would then harden.

The printer then creates objects by placing one layer of resin over another. It would be interesting to note that one layer is less than 1/20th of a millimeter thick. In the end the printer creates "high resolution" finished products. The latter can boast sophisticated interior structures.

Despite the fact that this compact 3D printer is the size of a milk carton weighting 1.5 kilograms (3.31 lbs.) researchers hope to make the device even smaller and more lightweight.

The team spent EUR 1,200 (about $1,700) to create the device, which is not a lot in comparison with other 3D printers.

Researchers also look forward to using other materials that could serve as alternatives for resin, ceramics for example. They hope that their device would have a large number of uses. For instance it could be used to create various spare parts for different gadgets so users won't have to search for them.

Currently there's no information regarding the date when the device will be commercially available, reports Gizmag.

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