A new study found that by shining a beam of light in a liquid resin, a new 3D printing technology called “Xolography” can generate complex hollow structures, including simple machines with moving parts.

Research co-author Martin Rehli, an experimental physicist at the Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany, said: “I imagine it is like a replica of Star Trek.” “When you see the light sheet moving, You can see something from nothing.”

Traditional 3D printing creates new parts layer by layer. However, this method will encounter problems when generating hollow objects, because the overhanging features will naturally collapse without any support for them.

Generate complex hollow ball structure through 3D printing

A number of methods seek to 3-d printing hollow structure by shining light in a vat of liquid resin. In these so-called volumetric techniques, the light cures any liquid it shines, while the rest of the resin provides support to prevent the hardened material from collapsing.

Now, German scientists have invented a new technology called “X-ray photography”, which has a faster speed and higher resolution than the previous volume measurement method, which was introduced in detail in the journal Nature earlier this month This research. They developed a start-up company called xolo to commercialize their work.

The new technology uses two types of light for printing. First, the rectangular ultraviolet film excites the thin layer of special molecules in the resin from the initial dormant state to the latent state. Next, white light is used to project a sliced image of a printed object onto the paper, and only the activated resin is hardened. “Xolography”, pronounced “ksolography”, refers to how the “x” beam produces the entire “holographic” object in this printing “graphite” technology.

Using X-ray photography, researchers can create free-floating objects without any supporting structure, such as simple machines with wheels that rotate in response to flowing liquid, or balls in a spherical cage. They also printed a highly detailed 3 cm wide bust of a person with clear internal anatomical features of the chest cavity, such as hollowed-out nasal passages and esophagus. Currently, X-ray photography can print at a speed of about 55 cubic millimeters per second, with structures as small as 25 microns.

A previous volumetric technique, called two-photon photopolymerization, can generate features smaller than 100 nanometers in size, but at a slower rate because the resin patch used in this method will only cure when it absorbs two photons at the same time. The other is called computer axial lithography, which is much faster than two-photon photopolymerization, but is limited to producing features as large as about 300 microns, because the resin that hardens at one point will interfere with the light as they try to be in other areas Curing resin.

X-ray photography is 100,000 times faster than two-photon photopolymerization, and almost as fast as computerized axial lithography, because it does not rely on each target point to absorb two photons at a time. Regelhy said: “The possibility of two photons hitting a molecule at the same time is very small.” “Therefore, two-photon photopolymerization may take a long time.”

In addition, the resolution that X-ray photography can achieve is about 10 times that of computer axial lithography, because it can quickly and selectively harden only the activated resin without hardening the rest of the material. The co-author of the study, chemist and materials scientist Stefan Hecht of the University of Aachen in Germany, said: “We never have to transmit light through something that has already been written.” “This is the same as writing on blank paper. It’s not the same as writing on the old page already written on it.”

One possible main application of X-ray photography is the use of liquids filled with living cells to produce complex biological structures. Hecht pointed out that the advantage of X-ray photography over existing bioprinting technology is that the cells are not damaged by the stress generated by the nozzles of the bioprinter, which may damage them.

“On the other hand, we can also print very hard things-we can print glass,” Hircht added. “We can make the material amazingly versatile.”

The researchers suggest that by using a more powerful laser and repairing the resin, the printing speed of X-ray photography can be accelerated. In addition, they suggested that they could use more complex resins to print multiple materials at the same time to produce devices such as sensors and electronic devices.

Regelhy said that future research will explore how to remove residual resin in printed matter. He pointed out: “This also raises the question of whether the liquid can be reused.”

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