This Just Might Be The Coolest 3D Printer Ever Made

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I've been accused of using hyperbole a little too liberally at times. I sometimes claim a technology to be "the best ever" when that is clearly not the case. I'm feeling pretty confident, however, that today's new 3D printer can be in the list of best technologies to ever grace our planet. The best part - it was made by students.

Liz and Kyle von Hasseln recently won the first ever Gehry Prize from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. The reason? Their latest project - Phantom Geometry - is an entirely new way to approach 3D printing that just kind of blows my mind. It's similar to a 3D printer that uses stereolithography, but it uses UV light instead of lasers to create complex creations made from a special resin. Check it out:

SCI-Arc Gehry Prize 2012 - Phantom Geometry - Kyle & Liz Von Hasseln/Advisors: Peter Testa & Devyn Weiser from SCI-Arc on Vimeo.

The project was part of a larger thesis on the part of the von Hasselns who used the breakthrough in 3D printing to have us question "the supremacy of the digital model." Here's the full description:

"We are developing a system of moving streaming information through space, in the form of light, to generate material form. This system is a full-scale, generative fabrication process that is innately non-linear, is interruptible and corruptible at any time, and does not rely on periodic flattening to 2D. Light is the medium for data in our system. There resident data can be drawn through physical space, at full scale, to generate a photographic artifact, or to instantiate material form through the selective polymerization of proximal photo-responsive resin. This thesis, then, begins to investigate a design paradigm centered on the material reification of light. That paradigm questions the supremacy of the digital model, and the static flattening and stacking logics inherent to typical fabrication workflows. It is part of a conversation about representation, about the role of the designer, and about the way we make."

If that didn't make any sense to you, just know this: these guys have created a method that makes large 3D printed objects using only light. It can also be stopped at any time for readjustment and other alterations as the designer sees fit. A designer wouldn't have to wait many hours until the model was finished printing before inspecting the product. With this, they can inspect the model at each step of the process and recalibrate for any errors.

If you still want to have your mind blow, here's a video that features what it looks like to have the resin being cured in real time. It's slow, but it's absolutely amazing to see solid material being brought into existence by mere light.

Phantom Geometry from Liz and Kyle von Hasseln on Vimeo.

I may be succumbing to hyperbole again, but this may be the coolest 3D printer I have ever seen. The scale at which it can print by using something as simple as a projector is something that should revolutionize the world of 3D printing. We might even be able to get contour crafting off the ground if this kind of technology can be used with other materials at some point in the future.

[ht/: Fast Co Design]

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