3D Printing Robot Creates Metal Structures in Mid-Air


A Dutch designer has just created a new way to build metal structures.

The MX3D-Metal method is a 3D-printing technique that allows a robot to draw metal structures in the air. Created by designer Joris Laarman, this technique features a robotic arm that is used in car manufacturing and a welding machine. This technique melts metal and creates lines mid-air in any direction: horizontal, vertical, or in spirals.

This technique, referred to as “anti-gravity object modelling” on Laarman’s website, allows structures to be created without the need for supporting structures.

Last year, Laarman developed a machine which “3D prints” in quick-drying resin. This new technique builds on that development; allowing structures to be 3D printed in a variety of metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, or copper.

“By adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, we are able to print lines in mid air,” explains Laarman on his website.

Laarman, who graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2003, believes that this technique can be used to 3D print architecture as well as concrete reinforcements. “Because the technology is not affected by gravity, it could even be used in space,” he said.

Laarman is using this technique to create a 3D-printed metal bench, which is to go on display at Friedman Benda Gallery in New York this May.

Ultimately, Laarman would like to develop a user-friendly interface that anyone could use. One that can print direct from computer aided design (CAD) software.