Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new 3D printer, MultiFab,
that can simultaneously print 10 different materials.
MultiFab, which you can learn more about by watching the video above, can combine the 10 materials, as well as other finished parts, directly into the design of a single object.
Here’s more from MIT:
Delivering resolution at 40 microns – or less than half the width of a human hair – the “MultiFab” system is the first 3-D printer to use 3-D-scanning techniques from machine vision, which offers two key advantages in accuracy and convenience over traditional 3-D printing.
First, MultiFab can self-calibrate and self-correct, freeing users from having to do the fine-tuning themselves. For each layer of the design, the system’s feedback loop 3-D scans and detects errors and then generates so-called “correction masks.” This approach allows the use of inexpensive hardware while ensuring print accuracy.
Secondly, MultiFab gives users the ability to embed complex components, such as circuits and sensors, directly onto the body of an object, meaning that it can produce a finished product, moving parts and all, in one fell swoop.
MultiFab was built using low-cost, off-the-shelf components that cost around $7,000 total. This is certainly more expensive than hobbyist models, but it’s a fraction of the cost of some high-end industrial models.
“Companies could edit and finalize designs faster, allowing them to bring products to market sooner,” MIT says. “Big-box stores that have already installed single-material 3-D printers could graduate to multi-material ones, for use by casual hobbyists and small business owners alike.