Last week, Carbon3D announced a 3D printing system that's 25 times faster than traditional 3D printers. Now, a company called Gizmo 3D has revealed that it's developing a system that can also achieve incredible speeds.
The new system utilises an existing technique called Direct Light Processing, which uses light to fuse liquid resin into a solid form, 3Dprint reports. But unlike existing techniques which pause to fuse an object layer-by-layer, illuminating once then moving before illuminating again, Gizmo 3D's prototype does it all in one fluid process.
There are no pauses: the light exposure is played as an animation, allowing the platform holding the printed object to move in one smooth, continuous process. (It's worth noting that the GIF above isn't real time, though.) In fact, Kobus Toit, the Founder of Gizmo 3D, refers to it as "animated printing".
How fast is it, exactly? Well, it can print an object that measures 6 inches by 3 inches by 1 inch -- with a vertical resolution of 50 microns -- in 6 minutes. That is incredibly fast. Exact details of the technology that make that possible are currently under wraps. Toit explained to 3Dprint:
"I am using the same DLP technology as everybody else building bottom-up printers, except mine is a top-down. I just have special features that set it apart. [There is] one top secret that needs to be patented and I will probably not talk about it until I [launch on] Kickstarter. There are a lot of smart and rich people out there that might be able to build it into their machines before I [go on] Kickstarter."
Apparently the trick up his sleeve allows Toit to double the speed of printing. When his project launches on Kickstarter, differently sized printers will be priced between $US2500 and $US6000 -- with the speed-doubling technology costing a further $US2500 to add on.
Of course, a prototype heading to Kickstarter is one thing; a fully functioning commercial unit it quite another. But the news does, along with that from Carbon3D last week, suggest that 3D printing is about to get a serious shot in the arm. We could be about to witness 3D printing's move from a prototyping niche to a technology something that's fast enough to be genuinely useful in everyday manufacturing. And that could be very exciting indeed. [3DPrint]