In a recent announcement, researcher Adrian Bowyer introduced a new 3D printing approach. The concept stole the attention of everyone – 3D printing enthusiasts, industry experts, and the public in general – because of the way it approaches 3D printing.
The new concept introduced by Bowyer, electric 3D printing, allows for objects to be modeled and printed in a seamless and immensely accurate way. Rather than slicing the printed object into layers, electric 3D printing uses a completely different approach.
Is this the future of 3D printing? Many believe that it is. Before you jump to the same conclusion, here are three things you need to know about Bowyer’s new 3D printing technology.
It Enables Instant Printing
“My idea is to have a bath of monomer engineered to polymerize using an electric current. In place of shining light through it like the Berkeley/Livermore system, the current is programmed using the reverse of the Spectra system,” according to Bowyer.
A special monomer in its liquid form is used as the printing medium. Electricity is then used to turn that monomer into solid object in a precise and calculated way. The method has one unique advantage: it is incredibly fast.
Instead of printing in layers, the electric 3D printing process happens near instantly. Electrodes on the wall of the monomer bath container can be activated simultaneously, resulting in faster printing of even complex 3D objects.
As an added bonus, the method brings the efficiency level of 3D printing to a whole new level. Less waste and more accurate reproduction are traits that will make electric 3D printing appealing to industries.
It Combines Technologies
To really understand how advanced, and fascinating, the technology is, we have to take a closer look at how Bowyer invented electric 3D printing. The system is a combination of reverse CT-scan 3D printing process, electric 3D scanning technique, and electro-polymerization.
The first one is interesting on its own. Bowyer reversed the way CT-scan is performed in order to print something (rather than scan something) using polymer. Resistance of objects is measured in great detail using electric 3D scanning and then reproduced with the reverse CT-scan printing process.
The printing process lends this technology to interesting applications, including…
3D Metal Printing
Yes, the same process can be used to create 3D-printed objects using metal-based polymers. By customizing how liquid metal interacts with electricity and creating a metal-based polymer that works for the process, metal 3D printing in its advanced form may be just a few steps away.
Metal isn’t the only material explored by researchers in 3D printing field. A form of wood-like composite, stronger plastics, and glass are among the materials that attract researchers, particularly because of the high demand from industries.
Bowyer is one of the closest to the future of 3D printing. Many are already onboard with seeing electric 3D printing as the next big thing, and experts believe that many more will join the bandwagon. It is only a matter of time before the technology becomes available to home users.