3D printing as we always imagined
Additive manufacturing has massive potential — NASA recently tested a 3D-printed rocket fuel pump — but printing with more than one material is still difficult and expensive. Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, however, have developed a device that can print with 10 materials at once and do so at a resolution of 40 microns.
Using 3D scanning techniques from machine vision, MultiFab can self-calibrate and self-correct, which ensures accuracy (particularly important when using different materials) and also allows users to easily embed circuits or sensors into objects, making them more like finished products than the single-material objects manufactured today.
The team has used MultiFab to print everything from smartphone cases to LED lenses, and they envision applications in consumer electronics, medical imaging and telecommunications, among other things. They plan to also experiment with embedding motors and actuators that would make it possible to 3D-print more advanced electronics, including potentially even robots.
MultiFab was built for $7,000 from off-the-shelf components.
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