New 3-D Printer Inspired by CAT-Scans

CAT scans can produce 3-D images of biological structures, by combining images from x-rays beamed from all sides.

Well, engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC Berkeley are creating objects in a similar way, using light instead of x-rays. They project images of a rotating object at a synchronized rotating transparent bottle containing a plastic resin that hardens on exposure to light. Lo and behold, a solid object with the desired shape on all sides kind of magically solidifies in the resin, not in layers but all at once. And the remaining non-solidified resin can be poured off and reused. At Berkeley, they informally call it the "replicator", from the Star Trek device that it kind of resembles. More officially it's CAL (which "just happens" to be UCBerkeley's nickname): 'Computed Axial Lithography'.

It's much simpler than existing 3-D printers and promises to be more effective for many applications.

More details here

They have filed for a patent on it and it could turn out to be big.

The paper is in Science (behind a pay-wall).
That kind of "whole-sculpting" of single material objects and parts would complete the package of a versatile 3D-printer's skill set. Since complicated objects would have to be composed of a variety of different materials and different substances mingled together, printing by voxels and layer by layer will still have to be included in the future.

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