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Prototype 3D Printer Could Print Arteries In Seconds
In 2017, EPFL's engineers in their Laboratory of Applied Photonic Devices created a 3D printer that could fabricate small objects almost instantaneously:
EPFL’s 3D printer is one of the fastest in the world. Whereas most 3D printers work by depositing a material layer by layer in a process known as additive manufacturing, the EPFL one uses a volumetric method. “We pour the resin into a container and spin it,” says Christophe Moser, a professor at LAPD. “Then we shine light on the container at different angles, causing the resin to solidify wherever the accumulated energy in the resin exceeds a given level.
One of the limitations of their method is that it would only work with transparent resin, which limited the kind of objects that could be fabricated.
Now, the team has worked out a way to use opaque resins, which could have many more applications:
(Three objects printed in 3D printer:)
One made from transparent resin (left); one from opaque resin, without correction (middle); and one from opaque resin, with correction (right).© Alain Herzog 2022 EPFL
For example, a surgical team could print out arteries for a patient fabricated in seconds:
The researchers claim that with this method they can now do volumetric printing in opaque resins with almost the same precision as when printing with the transparent resins. Currently with the opaque material they are printing at a resolution of 0.1mm, and they hope to increase this to 1 micron in the future.
With this method, the researchers at the institute hope to be able to print biological materials such as artificial arteries.
Obviously, this development has science fiction fans quivering with anticipation, hoping to hop across the galaxy though a series of way stations as described in Way Station, a 1963 novel written by Clifford Simak:
Moments ago the creature in the tank had rested in another tank in another station and the materializer had built up a pattern of it - not only of its body, but of its very vital force, the thing that gave it life. Then the impulse pattern had moved across the gulfs of space almost instantaneously to the receiver of this station, where the pattern had been used to duplicate the body and the mind and memory and the life of that creature now lying dead many light years distant.
And in the tank the new body and the new mind and memory and life had taken almost instant form - an entirely new being, but exactly like the old one, so that the identity continued in the consciousness (the very thought only momentarily interrupted), so that to all intents and purposes the being was the same.
There were limitations to the impulse patterns, but this has nothing to do with the speed, for the impulses could cross the entire galaxy with but little lag in time.
Science fiction readers might enjoy this reference, to the Nutrient Gelatin Tank used in Nat Schachner's fascinating 1936 story The Isotope Men:
The jelly closed with a quiver over the descending form. Within its clear depths the cradled body showed like a prehistoric monster caught in a huge globule of ancient amber...
(Nutrient Gelatin Tank from 'The Isotope Men' by Nat Schachner)
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/19/2022)
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