Let’s say you need a couple of shiny, glittery baubles for your festival tree, or maybe something to fix the garden hose. Now, if you can imagine it, it’s there in seconds!
Back in 2017, scientists at MIT demonstrated that it was possible to print things in 3D resin, using lasers and a holographic image. Starting with a beaker full of photosensitive liquid polymer, they exposed the resin to a set of three intersecting lasers, which caused the liquid to harden, but only at the point of maximum exposure.
But let’s rewind a bit. The first high-speed liquid printing was demonstrated by Carbon, who developed a system for hardening polymer resins using ultraviolet lasers, layer by tiny layer, until the 3D object was drawn from the puddle of goo, like Terminator.
Now the science has advanced to a whole new level, where objects can be designed in 3D, complete with colour mapping and textured surfaces. As long as you can project the hologram with sufficient resolution, you can create the solid shape from a bowl of transparent liquid.
That’s where the magic lies. Nano molecules adopt colour and hardness depending on the frequency of laser light they are exposed to, so with the right software, and suitable goo, you can create almost any object you like.
And it only takes a few seconds.