In an unlikely pairing, scientists and Taiwan have found a way to make a smartphone and a 3D printer harmonize in perfect synchronicity, using the UV rays generated from any given smartphone screen to cure resin — the material almost all photopolymer 3D-printed products are made out of — and subsequently hardening it to reinforce a finished (and more durable) three-dimensional model.

Eponymously named the Taiwan Tech Printer, the device was developed by a team of researchers led by Jeng Ywam-Jeng, a professor at the National University of Science and Technology in Taiwan (AKA Taiwan Tech).

To work, the bite-sized printer posits a tub of resin on top of a smartphone screen. As the printer starts to mechanize (with help from a z-axis platform, which raises the product out of the resin tub), the light produced by the phone screen is harnessed by a metal build plate positioned above; when exposed, the object's resin material cures and hardens, layer by layer, when exposed to the screen's UV rays until printing is complete.

The use of a smartphone in lieu of a box-like structure to contain the UV rays makes the printer a bit more accommodating for the average user, doing away with extra bulk and substituting it with something as simple as turning off a light. However, due to the actual low amount of light emitted from the average smartphone, the printing process can take up a bit more time than an average model. However, as Hanhsuan Lee, a researcher on the team, explained to the publication 3D Printing Industry, "our print speed is still relatively slower than other vat polymerization machines now, but we are working hard to solve this problem and seem to be getting promising results recently."

Lee also recognizes the momentous innovations that are taking place within the 3D printing industry, which the team fully expects to aid it in fine-tuning its own design.

"There is a professor at Taiwan Tech that has developed a DLP printer that can print a layer every two seconds," added Lee, "And we are working on a process for making the smartphone light more powerful.  

Check out the 3D printer in the video clip below.


Via: Slashgear

Photo: Danny Choo | Flickr

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