A 3D printer generally moves its printing mechanism in straight paths on it’s x, y and z axes. But a new printer developed by Brian Harms, a masters student at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, uses a robotic arm to print in a freeform manner, angling this way and that, poking its extruder in and out of a bed of gel, where it injects its light-curing resin. By depositing the print material in the gelatinous medium, there is no need for any support structures — the resin stays suspended at its precise x,y,z point. When the print is done, you pull it out of the reusable gel and wipe the gel away.
The new process he calls “Suspended Depositions” is differentiated from other 3D printing processes because it uses 3D vector-based toolpaths rather than paths generated via contouring a digital model.
On his Vimeo post he describes the benefits of his new Suspended Depositions:
The suspension of resin in space without added support material allows for the ability to navigate and fabricate directly on and around other existing objects within the Gel, as well as the ability to observe the process from any angle. The suspension of time in this process allows for tool changes, manual injections, on-the-fly robotic injections, multi-material injections, live modification of the digital or physical model, and the ability to physically “undo” (resin removal via suction or scooping).
An Undo function? Nice.
Check out more videos and photos at Brian’s website.