One of the more interesting aspects of additive manufacturing/3D printing is how other people are exploring innovative ways to add material to create an object. Here is Mataerial, developed by Petr Novikov and Saša Jokić, who claim that this is a new method of additive manufacturing. It is unique.
Using a thermoset plastic, the extruded material solidifies quickly to allow this robotic-based 3D printing approach to create freeform shapes in the air.
This printer was developed by Novikov and Jokić during their internship at Joris Laarman Lab, Barcelona Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, where students can experiment with digital fabrication methods.
According to Novikov and Jokić, a chemical reaction between two components of the thermoset polymer material causes it to solidify as it comes out of the nozzle, enabling the plastic to stick to horizontal, vertical, smooth or irregular surfaces without the need for additional support structures.
The designers call this process “anti-gravity object modeling,” and a patent is pending. It uses extrusion to create “chunky three-dimensional rods” rather than build objects one layer at a time.
Conventional methods of additive manufacturing have been affected both by gravity and the printing environment: creation of 3D objects on irregular or non-horizontal surfaces has so far been treated as impossible. Extrusion technology, though, can be used to neutralize the effect of gravity during the printing process. It allows you to work with 3D curves instead of 2D layers. The benefit of 3D curves is that is enables you to follow exact stress lines of a custom shape.
You would use CAD software to create your object’s shape. The Mataerial process transforms the CAD data into 3d curves describing the shape, which are then converted into movement paths for the robotic arm. The thickness of the printed curve can be scaled to less than a millimeter and can be adjusted during the printing process by changing the speed of the movement. This printing method can also accommodate color by injecting colors into the nozzle in CMYK mode that allows changing of the curve color throughout the printing process.