Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have created a new kind of 3D printer, using a technique called "two-photon lithography," that allows them to print objects several times faster than similar devices.
"The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second – our device can do five meters in one second," explained TU Vienna's Professor Jürgen Stampfl.
The printer works by using a laser to harden a liquid resin and create a solid object. The technique was previously quite slow, but the Vienna researchers sped it up by guiding the laser with faster-moving mirrors, and printing from a special resin.
Working with a team of chemists, they developed a printing material whose molecules harden when they absorb two photons from the laser beam at once. Previous techniques could only create solid material one layer at a time, but the Vienna team's printer can create it anywhere within the pool of liquid resin, saving a huge amount of time.
The researchers claim their new printer has set a world record for 3D printing speed.