Tanks of Gel Make 3-D Printing Fast and Easy

Time is a 3-D printer’s worst enemy. The machines work by piping out the printed object's material in thin layers, and have to wait for each layer to dry before adding the next one. If they didn't have to wait for the material to dry, a printer could construct items like furniture in a matter of minutes instead of hours. A team at MIT believes they found a way around this issue using giant tanks of gel.

As Co.Design reports, a new technique called Rapid Liquid Printing doesn’t require any layering. Instead, a needle injects the material (either liquified rubber, foam, or plastic) directly into the gel. The gel supports the hot liquid so the machine is able to move on with the rest of the design without waiting for the structure to harden.

MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab developed the technology after they were approached by the office furniture company Steelcase last year. Yuka Hiyoshi, a senior industrial designer for Steelcase, compared the method they landed on to “calligraphy or drawing” when speaking to Co.Design.

The Self Assembly Lab isn’t the first group to come up with a rapid 3-D printing process. The continuous liquid interface production (CLIP) method from Carbon3D uses oxygen and UV light to liquify and harden materials instantaneously. But while that technology is good for printing small, detailed objects in a few minutes, MIT’s printer is ideal printing larger items in the same time frame.

Rapid Liquid Printing works with any item that fits in a vat. Furniture for Steelcase, specifically tops for coffee tables, has been the first big experiment for the printers. Results have been promising, but the company doesn’t plan to integrate the technology into its commercial products just yet. Manufacturing car and plane parts is another possible application for the machine.

[h/t Co.Design]

The Mental Floss Store Is Back!

Mental Floss Store
Mental Floss Store

You've been asking about it for months, and today we can finally confirm that the Mental Floss Store is back up and running! Simply head here to find dozens of T-shirts with all sorts of unique designs to choose from, whether you’re in the market for a pi pun, a risqué grammar joke, or something only your fellow bookworms will appreciate. You can even use your new Mental Floss shirt to teach your friends all about scurvy.

Mental Floss Store

If you’re just in the mood to express your love of all things Mental Floss, you can also get our darling little logo on phone cases, tote bags, mugs, baby bibs, and more.

Mental Floss Store

Head on over to the Mental Floss Store to see our entire collection. And if you use the code FLOSSERS at checkout by end of day Sunday, you'll get 20 percent off your order. 

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Print Your Own Custom Phone Cases With This KODAK Printer

Kodak
Kodak

If you’re stuck staring at the same picture on your phone case for months (or years) on end, this KODAK PrintaCase Printer will pop out a new custom case in just minutes with whatever image you desire. And right now, you can save $10 on the whole package, bringing the final price down to $120.

You start the process by hooking your phone up to the KODAK PrintaCase app and selecting your phone model. Adjust the framing until it’s just how you’d like it and voilá. There are printer models compatible with a range of phones, from the Apple iPhone 7/8 through the iPhone 11 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S8 through the Samsung Galaxy S10+. Each printer model comes with a clear case that fits that specific phone, and the print-out will be tailored to fit perfectly.

While changing your phone case is fun, it’s a skill that can also make and save you money. Use it to create unique and personalized gifts this holiday season, or sell your designs to others looking for something unique.

Score one today while the KODAK PrintaCase Printer and accessories are discounted to $120.

Prices subject to change.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.