Science

3D Printing Just Got A Whole Lot More Colourful

A model of Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, made using the iCLIP method for 3D printing, which allows for the use of multiple types – or colors – of resin in a single object. Image credit: William Pan

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a method of 3D printing that promises to create prints faster, using multiple types of resin in a single object. Their design, published recently in Science Advances, is 5 to 10 times faster than the quickest high-resolution printing method currently available and could potentially allow researchers to use thicker resins with better mechanical and electrical properties.

Joseph DeSimone, is the Sanjiv Sam Gambhir Professor in Translational Medicine and professor of radiology and of chemical engineering at Stanford and corresponding author on the paper. He said:

“This new technology will help to fully realize the potential of 3D printing. It will allow us to print much faster, helping to usher in a new era of digital manufacturing, as well as to enable the fabrication of complex, multi-material objects in a single step.”

With this new method, called injection CLIP, or iCLIP, the researchers have mounted syringe pumps on top of the rising platform to add additional resin at key points.

The resin is delivered through conduits that are printed simultaneously with the design. The conduits can be removed after the object is completed or they can be incorporated into the design the same way that veins and arteries are built into our own body.

By injecting additional resin separately, iCLIP presents the opportunity to print with multiple types of resin over the course of the printing process – each new resin simply requires its own syringe. The researchers tested the printer with as many as three different syringes, each filled with resin dyed a different color. They successfully printed models of famous buildings from several countries in the colour of each country’s flag, including Saint Sophia Cathedral in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag and Independence Hall in American red, white, and blue.

The researchers are now working on software to optimize the design of the fluid distribution network for each printed piece. They want to ensure that designers have fine control over the boundaries between resin types and potentially speed up the printing process even further.

To access the paper click on this link: Injection continuous liquid interface production of 3D objects