Printing Without Supports!

If print supports have ever caused you grief, know that there’s an alternate printing method in the works. First: get yourself a vat of industrial gel in which to print.

Rapid Liquid Printing(RLP) is being developed in collaboration by Michigan-based company [Steelcase] and [Skylar Tibbits’] Self Assembly Lab at MIT. RLP is touting advantages over traditional 3D printing technology such as reduced print times, a higher quality print, and enabling larger scale prints — all without supports!

Working with rubber, plastic, or foam, the printing material is injected by nozzle into a basin of industrial gel. That gel suspends the print throughout the process without bonding to it and the finished product is simply lifted out of the gel and rinsed off. Shown off at the Design Miami event earlier this month, onlookers could pick up finished lampshades and tote bags after mere minutes.

Now, this could lead to an entirely different set of extrusion issues — but only minutes later at most. The same can be said for another MIT project that continues to push what more conventional 3D printers are capable of.

[Via /r/EngineeringPorn]

19 thoughts on “Printing Without Supports!

      1. Why? I don’t think this is a heat fusing method. I think the hardening is a chemical reaction that can take place without air (gel will displace the air). The bonding strength will be dictated by how well the liquid plastic will bond to itself.

  1. Great project that has a very interesting concept, have just one quibble.
    “a higher quality print” It looks like the nozzle produces about a centimeter wide path hardly high resolution.

  2. Not quite sure about the reduced print time, maybe on objects formed of thick lines suspended in air. But if you were to do it layer by layer at very fine detail like an FDM it would take just as long.
    It’s still very early days, maybe it could work someday with a lot of fine tuning, but now it’s just another gimmick to get money off investers who have no idea.

  3. I don’t know that this is really adaptable to high resolution prints, but considering there’s already demand for FDM printers with 1 mm (or larger) nozzles, obviously big and low res has a market.

  4. If the. Density of the plastic is less than that of the gel, the part will rise to the surface. Also, I can’t see how this technique can be both rapid and high resolution as the wake left by the print nozzle will likely distort the print.

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