На написание данной статьи меня вдохновил внутренний митап по 3D печати, который относительно недавно прошел в нашей компании. На митапе, мой коллега рассказывал много интересного по этой теме, и даже доставил в офис свой принтер, с помощью которого наглядно продемонстрировал процесс создания различных объектов.
На этом митапе я узнал много нового, о чем раньше даже не приходилось задумываться. В общем, после, решил изучить вопрос подробнее. В результате чего и родилась эта статья.
1984, Orwell’s prophetic year of Big Brother, saw the release of the Mac which broke the idea that centralised control could ever be what it was before. That year also saw the first workable prototype for a 3D printer. Built by Charles Hull, the technology was then known as stereolithography. We know it as 3D printing, and that’s a term that covers a variety of different processes which may revolutionise all stages of the global manufacturing and distributing process. In that very science-fictional year, Hull set off a revolution that is only now seeing fruition. 3D printing continues to threaten the social and economic structures which preceded it. When we speak about 3D printing, we’re speaking of a general technique of successive printing layers to form a three-dimensional object at the end. From powder to paper to human tissue, these thin membranes are laid down like the construction of a plaster mask. From that simple concept, the 3D printer offers the reverse of Ford’s mass production revolution. Printing one item is now as cost-effective in some cases as manufacturing a thousand items in the traditional way.
The computer powers 3d printing with printable files known as STLs, guiding the printers themselves as they construct, from the ground up, plastic homunculi that would awe medieval alchemists. It’s not quite the replicator from Star Trek, but it’s in the same Galaxy Class Starship.
Our 3D printing future, however, isn’t liable to look like the utopian ideals Gene Roddenberry envisioned. Instead, we will see both positive and negative outcomes from these machines as the world finds ways to employ the emergent technology.
Guerillas in the Powdery Mist
Scientists at the Laboratory of Applied Photonics Devices from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) are developing a new high-performance 3D-printing technique. Their patent-pending volumetric printing technology features rotational exposure of photopolymer resins to radiation resulting in light-shaping. Another peculiarity is that the part is printed in a single step, not layer-by-layer.
The technology itself seems to be of US origin. At the beginning of the previous year, a team of scientists from Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) demonstrated Computed Axial Lithography (CAL), a 3D-printing method based on LLNL’s previous researches on resin 3D-printing technique that features holographic patterning of light fields. The models were initially formed by laser beam crossing, which is very complex and expensive. Therefore, it’s been decided to alter the technology in favor of rotational exposure of photopolymer resins.
The Chinese company WinSun is helping in the fight against the epidemic of the coronavirus by constructing isolation wards. The company is printing modular mobile isolation wards on its self-developed 3D printers.
3D printing has proven to be a unique technology that has a plethora of various applications, such as space engineering, car industry, medicine, and construction.
Equipmake is a UK-based company that is currently developing “Ampere” — a traction motor designed to be the world’s best in terms of power density. The device will have a peak current density of more than 20 kW/kg (12 hp/lb), the outstanding value that the company aims to achieve by implementing various technologies of additive manufacturing.
Copper3D is a Chilean/US-based company that discovered a new mode of application for proprietary filament with copper nanoparticles. As products developed from such materials are very effective in terms of inactivating HIV, they can prove extremely useful in the construction of 3D-printed breastfeeding filters. Such applications cannot be considered new, since 3D printing is widely used for medicinal purposes.
With medical equipment drastically growing scarce, a number of organizations and enterprises have taken up the development and manufacture of mechanical ventilators, relying on fast production by means of 3D printing technologies. 3D printing is often implemented in the medical field, but now, it's proving to be of great help during the emergency.
The first news of 3D printed ventilation apparatus came from Spain (apart from the case of 3D printing of valves at an Italian hospital). Here, we are talking about the so-called Ambu bags — temporary manual ventilators usually applied in the field by, paramedics. A whole consortium was involved in the development of the 3D printed version with the mechanical drive mechanism. The Leitat Technology Center in Barcelona played the leading role; support was provided by the Catalan Health Service, Barcelona's Zona Franca industrial estate, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and the Parc Taulí Hospital in Sabadell, which houses the Faculty of Medicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Texas-based company ICON is making an experimental “Martian” building using a proprietary constructional 3D printer. The Mars Dune Alpha project implies refining usage of 3D printing technologies for future Martian buildings with the help of available materials. The project also covers researching the habitability of such buildings.
Cygnus NG-16 was recently launched into space. It’s an iSS resupply spacecraft that brings materials and equipment needed for 3D printing with lunar regolith simulant to International Space Station.