Presently, 3D printing is extremely slow and time consuming. For example, it may take several hours to print a single 3D object even if the 3D object is relatively small.
A further problem with existing 3D printing techniques is the need for printing a support structure for any overhanging components of a 3D object. For example, a figurine of a human-like character may have its arms extending outward from its body or torso, and the arms would be cantilevered out from the body or overhang from the adjacent portions of the body.
A support structure would have to be included in layers printed below or in advance of the overhanging components or portions of the 3D object to provide material upon which to print the overhanging components. This slows the printing process further as a significant amount of material may have to be printed to provide the support structure.
Disney’s patented technology
Disney’s technology circumvents the layer-by-layer approach of conventional 3D printers that has significantly limited achievable printing speeds. The 3D printer is configured with the assumption that a physical “original” of a 3D object already exists (not just a digital model of a 3D object). Therefore, the 3D printer acts as a high speed 3D copying machine because it uses an optical assembly or a set of optics that relays a volumetric real image (versus a virtual image) of the existing or target 3D object into a container holding a volume of a photo-curing liquid or resin (e.g., a photopolymer or photo-cure liquid polymer).
The light associated with the volumetric real image, which is provided by one or more light sources directing light onto the existing or target 3D object, causes a portion or volume of the photo-curing liquid to be cured in a nearly instantaneous manner to generate or produce the entire 3D object (rather than slowly and layer-by-layer as with conventional 3D printers).
The light associated with the volumetric real image, which is provided by one or more light sources directing light onto the existing or target 3D object, causes a portion or volume of the photo-curing liquid to be cured in a nearly instantaneous manner to generate the entire 3D object (rather than slowly and layer-by-layer as with conventional 3D printers). The printed or produced 3D object, which is floating in or supported in the uncured liquid (e.g., a resin selected to be translucent to transparent to light and also viscous to support the in-process 3D object), can simply be lifted out of the vat/container. In several testing operations, a 3D printer using photo-curing liquids has been proven effective in generating 3D objects in several minutes or less rather than in several hours.
Similarly, light may be generated based on a 3D digital model as well to 3D print objects using 3D models.
Publication number: US 20160107380
Patent Title: Three Dimensional (3d) Printer With Near Instantaneous Object Printing Using A Photo-Curing Liquid
Publication date: 21 Apr 2016
Filing date: 21 Oct 2014
Inventors: Lanny S. Smoot; Alexander Hsing; Daniel Reetz;
Applicant: DISNEY ENTERPRISES, INC.