New Multi-Material “Laser” 3D Printer Can Create Complex Devices With Just a Single Machine

3D Printing With Laser Technology

University of Missouri researchers have developed a novel 3D printing method that allows the creation of complex multi-material devices in a single process, streamlining manufacturing and enhancing environmental sustainability. Credit: Sam O’Keefe

An innovative 3D printing method simplifies the manufacturing of multi-material products.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have developed a method to create complex devices with multiple materials — including plastics, metals, and

By printing sensors embedded within a structure, the machine can make things that can sense environmental conditions, including temperature and pressure. For other researchers, that could mean having a natural-looking object such as a rock or seashell that could measure the movement of ocean water. For the public, applications could include wearable devices that monitor blood pressure and other vital signs.

Advancements in 3D Printing Techniques

Specifically, other techniques fall short when it comes to how versatile the material can be and how precisely smaller components can be placed inside larger 3D structures.

The Mizzou team’s method uses special techniques to solve these problems. Team members built a machine that has three different nozzles: one adds ink-like material, another uses a laser to carve shapes and materials, and the third adds additional functional materials to enhance the product’s capabilities. It starts by making a basic structure with regular 3D printing filament, such as polycarbonate, a type of transparent thermoplastic. Then, it switches to laser to convert some parts into a special material called laser-induced SciTechDaily