Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have built a 3D printer capable of handling 10 different materials at once.
In the paper accepted at the SIGGRAPH computer-graphics conference, the team presented the MultiFab 3D printer that also features a 3D scanner. This 3D scanning based computer vision allows the device to self-calibrate and self-correct. According to the team, the error-correcting feedback loop ensures print accuracy without the use of expensive hardware. The expandable modular system was created with off-the-shelf components costing a total of $ 7,000.
The MultiFab works with a technology similar to Stratasys’ Objet machines, positioning microscopic droplets with an accuracy of up to 40 microns. Moreover, the system allows for embedding of auxiliary components by scanning 3D geometries and printing objects around them. Among others, the research team has 3D printed lenses on top of LEDs and a holder around a razor blade.
“The platform opens up new possibilities for manufacturing, giving researchers and hobbyists alike the power to create objects that have previously been difficult or even impossible to print,” explains Javier Ramos, a research engineer at CSAIL and co-author of the paper.
The MultiFab System could be used for various applications in consumer electronics, micro sensing, medical imaging and telecommunications, to name a few. The researchers have also plans to experiment with embedding motors and actuators that could eventually allow them to 3D print robots.