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Penn State University Researchers Found Way to Make 3D Printing 1000 Times Faster

Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University’s College of Engineering have made a major advance in high-speed beam-scanning technology that can increase the speed of 2D and 3D printing by up to 1000 times.

Scanning at a much higher speed was made possible by using a space-charge-controlled KTN beam deflector with a large electro-optic effect.

“Basically, when the crystal materials are applied to an electric field, they generate uniform reflecting distributions, that can deflect an incoming light beam,” said Shizhuo Yin, professor of electrical engineering in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “We conducted a systematic study on indications of speed and found out the phase transition of the electric field is one of the limiting factors.”

In order to overcome this issue, the team eliminated the electric field-induced phase transition in a nano-disordered KTN crystal by making it work at higher temperatures, beyond a critical end point. This increased the scanning speed from micro to nano seconds and therefor improved high-speed imaging, broadband optical communications and ultrafast laser display and printing.

According to Yin, this improved technology could be especially useful for high-speed imaging in real-time in the medical sector.

For example, optometrists who use a non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of a person’s retina, would be able to have the 3D image of their patients’ retinas as they are performing the surgery, so they can see what needs to be corrected during the procedure.

Moreover, the research would enable to create 3D prints that previously took an hour within a second. The printing time for 20,000 pages in 2D could be reduced to one minute.

The results were published in a September issue of the British journal Nature Scientific Report.