Large and complex structures have been largely the domain of heavy robotic hands or printer heads that are somewhat limited in movement and versatility. Most of the time, these types of 3D printing technologies are used for stable and functional structure that is not really the ideal artistic impression without using a few other techniques. A group of students from the University of Tokyo aims to change this perception and reality with a very sophisticated 3D printing pen.
Under the watchful eyes and skills of course director, Yusuke Obuchi, tutor, Toshi Kiuchi, and renowned Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, the students were able to fabricate a small pavilion that is quite large by 3D printing pen standards. It is a rather big and complex structure using 3D printing and acrylic rods to produce an amazing result. People can get to see first-hand this incredible structure as it stands at the Ozone Gallery in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
What makes the structure astounding is its ability to be modified into other shapes and designs. Once further tests are completed, the team is open to the idea of having the public reshape the design into anything that fancies the designer.
The development is seen as a huge upgrade from the previous 3D printing pens on the market today. For one, this new model allows the user excellent accuracy due to a digital tracking system that acts as a superb guide when the technology is running. It shows the user where and when to go, when the drawing begins. Second, the flexibility of the thermoplastic filament makes it extremely versatile. As mentioned, it can be modified into various shapes by anyone interested. The flexibility of the structure has stability better through the use of the acrylic rods. Third, it allows the user to 3D print large objects that are currently not possible with standard 3D printers. As the number of acrylic rods basically dictates the stability of the structure, the user can practically fabricate objects of any size.
The clincher that allows the new 3D printing pen to stand out is the artistic sense it gives back to the designers. Prior to this development, producing things through 3D printing is limited to the 3D printers’ robotic functions. Although, this in itself produces amazing results, the ability to express artistic freedom through the use of an artist’s “pen” is sorely lacking through this kind of 3D printing technology.
Kevin Clement, a member of the creative team, points out that the technology’s various benefits will work in practically any location that requires versatility and the ability to create large and complex designs. Manufacturers and producers will also be delighted to know that the technology is not as expensive compared to the traditional means of 3D printing large and complex structures. As always, any additive manufacturing technology that does not pinch the wallet the way others can, will always be hugely appealing to anyone interested in 3D printing.
Presently, the structures are not built for the long haul yet. These can last for nine months before the objects start to weaken, although, additional rods will certainly add more life to them. They care currently being tested under various weather conditions to fully understand and address their limitations. The potential that this technology presents is unlimited and has certainly created a buzz in the 3D printing community.