BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — Researchers at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore Lab have created a new kind of 3D printer that could potentially manufacture living human organs.
Normal 3D printers work by building up thin layers of melted plastic to create solid objects, but it’s hard to get intricate designs to hold their form.
So, design engineers at Cal and Lawrence Livermore Lab got the idea of making 3D objects the same way a CT scan creates 3D images: by hitting a patient with X-rays from many different directions.
“So we thought, let’s reverse that process to create objects rather than imaging them, except we do it with light instead of with X-rays,” said Dr. Hayden Taylor, Lead Investigator of the UC Berkeley team.
The process is called volumetric printing. Rotating images of an object are beamed through a conventional video projector. The light is focused on a slowly rotating cylinder of gooey resin containing plastic molecules with a light sensitive-activator.