MIT engineers have developed a desktop 3D printer that performs ten times faster than existing commercial counterparts. the most common printers may fabricate a few LEGO-sized bricks in one hour, whereas the new design can print similarly sized objects in just a few minutes. the key to the team’s nimble design lies in the printer’s compact printhead, which includes two speed-enhancing components: a screw mechanism that feeds polymer material through a nozzle at high force; and a laser, built into the printhead, that rapidly heats and melts the material, enabling it to flow faster through the nozzle.

MIT fast 3D printer is ten times faster than commercial counterparts
all images © massachusetts institute of technology



MIT’s team demonstrated its new design by printing various detailed, handheld 3D objects, including small eyeglasses frames, and a bevel gear — each, from start to finish, within several minutes.


anastasios john hart, associate professor of mechanical engineering, says the new printer demonstrates the potential for 3D printing to become a more viable production technique, ‘if I can get a prototype part, maybe a bracket or a gear, in five to 10 minutes rather than an hour, or a bigger part over my lunch break rather than the next day, I can engineer, build, and test faster.’ he continues, ‘if i’m a repair technician and i could have a fast 3-d printer in my vehicle, I could 3d print a repair part on-demand after I figure out what’s broken. I don’t have to go to a warehouse and take it out of inventory.’