The Technology Partnership (TTP) has just announced a new development that promises to change the shape of the 3D printing industry: a multi-material 3D printer head called Vista. TTP’s Vista reportedly has the ability to 3D print a wide range of both inorganic and organic matter, including plastics, metals, ceramics, enzymes and biological cells.
Though the Objet Connex series and Objet1000 PolyJet 3D printers are capable of 3D printing up to 14 different materials in a single build, those materials are limited to different variations of rubber and plastic-like options. According to TTP however, VISTA harnesses “a breakthrough method in droplet ejection” to allow for the printing of “large (50 μm+) particles and more viscous and volatile fluids” with a single printhead. This results in the ability to combine both organic and inorganic materials in one print.
As you might imagine, the possibilities of such technology are endless. Dr David Smith of TTP explains:
Our latest breakthrough will speed this process up and will change the face of manufacturing over the next ten years. The manufacturing process has remained the same for centuries with one company making products in a factory then shipping them out when orders are made. Multimaterial 3D printing will change this. No longer will organisations need to bulk buy or wait for items to be restocked, companies can simply print off the products they need, when they need them.
It will become possible to go to your local garage and have a new exhaust printed out there and then for you or to go to the hospital and get a custom implant created for you at the touch of a button.
From a medical perspective, the opportunities are endless from printing out a diagnostic test to ultimately printing off an organ that can be used in the human body.
TTP indicates that the printhead is already used commercially for 2D applications, as seen in the .gif on the right, but that, over the next 10 years, it can be applied to everything from “toys, medical devices, aircraft parts and even diagnostic test strips at the touch of a button.”
With any luck, aside from more efficiently constructed versions of the aforementioned objects, you’ll see things that you could never have fathomed existing: thermostats made from combinations of biological cells and electronic components that will detect climate changes with even greater sensitivity or even a semi-living Teddy Ruxbin!
The Technology Partnership plc (TTP) is Europe’s leading technology and product development company. TTP works closely with its clients to create disruptive products based on advances in technology and engineering innovation. TTP’s technology lies behind many products and processes in areas as diverse as communications, digital printing, instrumentation, consumer & industrial products, biotechnology, medical devices, cleantech and security systems.
One imagines the two big 3D printer manufacturers are going to be giving them a call sooner, rather than later, this has got to have implications for the PolyJet and ProJet processes.