Researchers Create A Tiny 3D Printer Smaller Than A Coin And It's A Big Deal

tiny 3d printer hero
Researchers from MIT and the University of Texas at Austin worked together to achieve a breakthrough in the world of 3D printing, creating a protype the size of a US quarter. The researchers say that “this system is completely rethinking what a 3D printer is. It is no longer a big box sitting on a bench in a lab creating objects, but something that is handheld and portable.”

One of the things that enables its small size is the use of a chip that is capable of employing small antennas to steer beams of light. This chip is heated using compact modulators, which are extremely efficient and tiny enough for the diminutive 3D printer. These modulators are then tuned with an electric field that allows for precise control of the beams of light.

tiny 3d printer body

Another key element to the breakthrough is the resin that is used to print objects. It’s a specialized resin that uses wavelengths of visible light for the rapid curing process. For this solution the researchers came up with a new, specific formula of chemicals and concentrations to achieve what they say provides a “long shelf-life and rapid curing.” This lead to the team to being able to print two-dimensional objects in a matter of seconds.

The researchers aren’t stopping with this breakthrough either. They have plans to make a 3D printer that uses the same kind of light and resin in a well to “enable volumetric 3D printing in only one step.” Jelena Notaros, a member of the research team says that “we are excited to continue working towards this ultimate demonstration.”

3D printing is potentially going to get more exciting with this new approach and form factor. It could make 3D printing more accessible and versatile, opening it up to more use cases. Here’s hoping these researchers get to their end goal sooner rather than later and are able to bring the technology to market.
Tags:  3D-Printing