MIT, 3D printing, airplane, buildingsMIT researchers have created a method for printing large objects by starting very small.

Kenneth Cheung and Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Bits and Atoms project, have been playing with 3D printing for a while. In a twist on the standard 3D printing approach, Cheung and Gershonfeld have create a 3D printing technique that creates tiny, lightweight blocks that can be snapped together to form larger objects.

The two researchers imagined a robot apparatus that would print and assemble pieces of a larger whole, bit by bit. Key to developing this new technique was creating a material that could be adapted to a number of different applications. According to Cheung and Gershenfeld the material they created can, “form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultra light materials."

MIT’s new modular 3D printing system has proven itself to be extremely adaptable, a property that could make it invaluable to both aerospace and civil engineers.

While the material for creating massive 3D printed structures has been created, the means to build such large objects is still in development. However, according to MIT, “The team is now developing an assembler robot that can crawl, insectlike, over the surface of a growing structure, adding pieces one by one to the existing structure.”

Images Courtesy of MIT

 

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