The 3D printer can create intricate robotic organs in a single run

The 3D printer can create intricate robotic organs in a single run

The 3D printer can create intricate robotic organs in a single run. Combining machine vision and contactless error correction enables ever more sophisticated multi-material printing. Engineers can use 3D inkjet printing methods to create hybrid structures combining soft and stiff components, such as robotic grippers that are strong enough to grasp large things but soft enough to interact safely with humans.

Thousands of nozzles are used in these multimaterial 3D printing systems to deposit tiny droplets of resin, which are smoothed using a scraper or roller and cured with UV light. However, the smoothing process may crush or smear slow-curing resins, restricting the materials that can be employed.

MIT, MIT spinoff Inkbit, and ETH Zurich researchers have developed a new 3D inkjet printing technology that works with a far broader spectrum of materials. Their printer uses computer vision to scan the 3D printing surface automatically and modify the amount of resin each nozzle deposits in real-time to ensure no areas have too much or too little material.

This contactless technology works with materials that cure more slowly than acrylates, which are commonly employed in 3D printing since it does not require mechanical elements to smooth the resin. Some slower-curing material chemistries can outperform acrylates in terms of elasticity, durability, and lifetime.

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The 3D printer can create intricate robotic organs in a single run

In recent years, 3D printing technology has made significant advances, allowing it to quickly generate everything from little plastic components to enormous skyscrapers. However, building sophisticated mechanical systems that require numerous materials and moving parts remains a difficulty.

To address this difficulty and build sophisticated functioning devices, this innovative printer combines inkjet printing technology with mistake correction guided by machine vision.

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It can maintain speed and accuracy while its numerous print heads lay down various materials side by side by scanning and adjusting layer by layer as it prints. While the researchers behind the technique, known as vision-controlled jetting, began by exhibiting prints with soft and hard plastics, the machine has the potential to print electronics or even cellular scaffolding for tissue engineering.

Furthermore, the autonomous system makes modifications without halting or slowing down the printing process, allowing this production-grade printer to print around 660 times faster than a comparable 3D inkjet printing system.

The printer was used by the researchers to manufacture complicated robotic devices that blend soft and stiff materials. They created a fully 3D-printed robotic gripper structured like a human hand and operated by a system of strengthened, yet flexible, tendons, for example.

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