Scientists develop 'Replicator' to build objects with light

  • Scientists develop 'Replicator' to build objects with light

Scientists develop 'Replicator' to build objects with light

But now scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have found a shortcut: a printer that can fabricate objects in one shot using light - and which could, potentially, revolutionize rapid manufacturing technology. One of the major issues is that 3D printing even small objects take a long time, and the objects you get at the end still require some cleaning up. The researchers said that the replicators can change the way products like eyeglass lenses and prosthetics are designed and manufactured.

They are calling it "The Replicator", an obvious tribute to the same device used in Star Trek which replicates objects using rays of light.

Traditional 3D printers build up objects layer by layer in either plastic or metal. The problem with layer by layer approach is that they form a stair-step effect at the edges. To form objects of certain shapes, these printers need supports.

3D printers have proven to be a great tool for DIY-ers. When this liquid comes in contact with a certain threshold of light, it will react and turn into solid. A projector beams the computer-generated video onto the resin tube.

In two minutes, for instance, the team was able to fabricate a tiny figurine of Auguste Rodin's famous "The Thinker" statue.

The printer works by scanning an object from every angle.

It works when carefully calibrated light waves are projected onto a rotating cylinder of liquid which transforms the object 'all at once'. "It makes 3D printing truly three-dimensional".

There are several advantages of replicator 3D printer as it doesn't generate material waste.

"Our technique generates nearly no material waste and the uncured material is 100 percent reusable", said Hossein Heidari, a graduate student in Taylor's lab at UC Berkeley and co-first author of the work.

The 3D printing resin is composed of liquid polymers mixed with photosensitive molecules and dissolved oxygen.