A group of researchers just created a desktop 3D printer that can print objects way faster than its current commercial counterparts.

The three-dimensional printer is considered one of the most innovative technologies of the 21st century. However, while the tech was able to revolutionize significant fields of the manufacturing industry, machines like the desktop 3D printer still fail to break into the mainstream market.


Slow speed is one of the ongoing issues faced by 3D printers today, with the majority of technological improvements being geared towards enhancing printing quality and lowering the cost. In a fast-paced world where people prefer things to be accomplished in just a few minutes, we could say that speed plays a huge role in making any invention appeal to the eyes of consumers.

The good news is, engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology just created a desktop 3D printer that could print objects way faster than its current commercial counterparts. According to reports, the machine has an improved printing speed ten times faster than other printers.

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Speedy Desktop 3D Printer

MIT’s new desktop 3D printer was built using the same fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology found in many 3D printers today.

So, what makes it perform faster?

According to the team, the key lies with the printer’s compact printhead which has two new, speed-enhancing components: a screw mechanism and a laser.

The screw mechanism feeds the polymer material into the nozzle at high force while the laser built into the printhead will rapidly heat and melt the material to make it flow faster through the nozzle. These two components, coupled with a fast gantry that is capable of moving the printhead at a higher speed, account for the overall speed performance of the prototype machine.

“Using this screw mechanism, we have a lot more contact area with the threaded texture on the filament,” Anastasios John Hart, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and Director of MIT’s Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity and the Mechanosynthesis Group, explained. “Therefore we can get a much higher driving force, easily 10 times greater force.”

Hart and Jamison Go, a former graduate researcher who works with Hart on the project, believe that the new desktop 3D printer can potentially be a more viable production method in the future.

“If I can get a prototype part, maybe a bracket or a gear, in five to 10 minutes rather than an hour, or a bigger part over my lunch break rather than the next day, I can engineer, build, and test faster,” Hart went on to say. “If I’m a repair technician and I could have a fast 3-D printer in my vehicle, I could 3-D-print a repair part on-demand after I figure out what’s broken. I don’t have to go to a warehouse and take it out of inventory.”

Currently, the team is said to be interested in applying their new technique to more advanced materials like high strength polymers, composite materials. They are also working on creating large printers, not just desktop 3D printers, to be able to print more essential structures for tooling or furniture.

“The capability to print fast opens the door to many exciting opportunities.”

Hart and Go’s project is supported by Lockheed Martin Corporation and the results have been published in the journal Additive Manufacturing.

Do you believe that speed could help boost the popularity of 3D printing technology?

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