Feb 20, 2017 | By Benedict

Daqri, a startup specializing in augmented reality devices, has created a hologram-powered 3D printer. The machine uses a complex DLP-style curing system, and is currently capable of printing small objects like paperclips.

Operating out of laboratories in San Francisco and the English city of Milton Keynes, augmented reality specialist Daqri has made a name for itself with several spectacular technological innovations, including smart glasses, a unique “smart helmet” for industry workers, and an automotive head-up display that has been fitted to hundreds of thousands of Jaguar Land Rover cars. All of these tools deliver real-time data through an overlaid interface to truly augment the user’s experience of the world around them. Daqri’s latest development sees it diverging from AR, instead putting its expertise into a highly unusual 3D printer that fabricates objects with holograms. Welcome to the future…

Daqri’s new 3D printer, which is still under development, is at once soothingly familiar and frighteningly cutting edge. That’s because it is, in one sense, a DLP 3D printer, using projected light to cure a light-sensitive monomer into a solid object. The difference, however, between regular the new Daqri 3D printer and existing DLP 3D printers lies in the way that its plastic-curing light is distributed. Amazingly, the Daqri machine uses a complex light field, or a hologram, to cure an entire object an once, rather than one layer at a time. The hologram technology is similar to that used by Daqri to project a display with multiple planes of information on car windshields.

The amazing monomer-curing holograms are produced by a special chip that can create holograms without the need for complex optics. Instead, a system of tunable crystals placed upon a silicon wafer controls the form of the reflected light directed at the surface of the chip from a laser. The crystals create patterns of interference in the light in accordance with digital instructions, which results in a 3D light field. When this light field is projected into a vat of a light-sensitive substance, the holograms create physical 3D objects by curing the substance wherever the light shines.

The Daqri hologram 3D printer can print small objects like paperclips

At present, the hologram is only able to create very small 3D printed objects such as paperclips. However, it can do so in as little as five seconds, where a regular 3D printer would take at least a few minutes to do the same. There are also structural advantages to the hologram method. For example, objects 3D printed in this way do not have a “grain” caused by the layer-by-layer printing method of most printers, and can therefore be stronger. The technique also eliminates the need for support structures.

Eventually, Daqri hopes to create a larger, more effective chip that is capable of 3D printing larger structures with holograms. To do so, however, it must overcome the challenge of controlling the heat energy produced by the hologram system in a way that stops the printed object from melting. If the company can do this, 3D printing could have a new and exciting technique to add to its already comprehensive arsenal of technologies.



Posted in 3D Printer



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Anthony wrote at 2/21/2017 3:24:37 AM:

Not sure how it can cure multiple layers at a time: if each layer receives light perpendicularly, that light will inevitably go through some other layers as well.

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