New Levitating 3D Printing Technology Prints In Mid-Air

Imagine printing something with multiple print heads while the object in question was floating in space. Please. Imagine it because I have no idea what is going on here.

A new “levitating” 3D printing technology pioneered by Boeing uses a central nugget of magnetic material. The nugget floats above another magnet (or via acoustic waves) and can be twisted and turned as necessary, allowing access to the object from all sides. Multiple 3D printing heads can then deposit material onto the object at once, creating a far faster solution.

Weird, right?

From the patent:

“There is a need for an AM method and apparatus that eliminates the need for a platform and/or support materials to stabilize the part during the fabrication process, and which removes limitations on the types of features that can be formed, allowing full body 3D printing of complex parts.”

I suspect that Boeing is hiding exactly how the deposition happens because the current visualization – little balls that turn into smooth surfaces – makes no sense. All that is clear is that they’re using an additive system “in space” which seems to suggest that the print heads have to be closer to the object than they are in the video.

That said I suspect this is truly a case of “Wow If True.” Patents rarely reflect the actual process in practice, especially when it comes to complex systems like this one, but to have multiple heads printing one object at the same time means far faster print speeds, better detail, and larger print sizes. This is some serious sci-fi stuff.

via 3D Printing Industry