3D printing compels us to rethink how we develop, produce, and service products.
A. John Hart
Recent work from an MIT lab may help 3D printing fulfill its long-standing promise to transform manufacturing by enabling the rapid design and production of customized and complex objects. Key to 3D printing is a printhead that deposits successive layers of material onto a surface until the final three-dimensional object is complete. The researchers have designed a novel printhead that can melt and extrude material with unprecedented speed. The system can create a complex handheld object in a few minutes rather than the hour required by a typical desktop 3D printer. The researchers have also demonstrated a room-temperature process for 3D printing with cellulose—a renewable, biodegradable alternative to the plastics now generally used. To show the chemical flexibility of cellulose, they’ve mixed in an antimicrobial dye and printed a pair of bacteria-resistant surgical tweezers.