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USC Viterbi Researchers Cut Time To 3D-Print Heterogeneous Objects From Hours To Minutes

USC Viterbi Professor Yong Chen and his team have developed a 3D printing process that is not only faster, but can model and fabricate heterogeneous objects.
By: Stephanie Shimada
December 05, 2013 —

3D printing – or direct digital manufacturing – has the potential to revolutionize various industries by providing faster, cheaper and more accurate manufacturing options, but fabrication time and the complexity of multi-material objects have long been a hurdle to its widespread use in the marketplace. However, now USC Viterbi industrial and systems engineering professor Yong Chen and his team (PhD students Pu Huang and Dongping Deng) have developed a new 3D printing process that has shaved the fabrication time of heterogeneous, or multi-material, objects down to minutes, bringing the manufacturing world one step closer to achieving its goal.

Below is a sampling of the media stories that featured Chen and his team's new 3D printing process and their groundbreaking research in this field.


A research team at USC, led by Yong Chen, has taken a previous breakthrough that cut print time down to minutes and applied it to printing in multiple materials using a resin printer. Printing in multiple materials is appealing because it can give objects multiple qualities, such as ranging from soft to hard.
Chen and his team have developed a new 3D printing process that allows them to model and fabricate heterogeneous objects comprising multiple materials in minutes instead of hours. Chen discusses how this capability “opens up exciting new options that were previously impossible.”
Researchers at USC have developed a faster 3D printing process and are now using it to model and fabricate heterogeneous objects. Chen is quoted and featured, and doctoral candidates Pu Huang and Dongping Deng are also mentioned.
Chen and his team’s 3D printer uses liquid resin rather than plastic filament and a projected 2D laser image process to create objects. In addition to cutting print time down from hours to minutes, the team has figured out how to use their printing process for multiple material print jobs.
China’s World Journal features Chen and describes how he will be presenting at ASME’s 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in San Diego on Nov. 20.
In another leap for 3D printing, researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have developed a faster 3D printing process that allows for 3D-printing multi-material objects in minutes instead of hours.
For 3D printing to reach its true potential, there are a number of hurdles yet to be fully overcome, including the ability to cohesively — and cost-effectively — 3D print multi-material objects. The lab of Yong Chen, at USC Viterbi School of Engineering, however, may be onto a new technique that brings multi-material additive manufacturing closer to full realization.
Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering have developed a faster multi-material 3D printing technique. Although 3D printing has been around for more than two decades, industries have been hesitant to adopt the technology. One of the most common complaints from manufacturers being that 3D printing takes too long.
3D printing sounds like the stuff of science fiction: A technology that potentially can create any object of one's imagination. But at the moment 3D printers are too slow for on demand printing and print runs for large numbers of products.
Whenever a journalist sits down to pen one of those ‘Why 3D printing is not actually the future and you are stupid if you think it is’ –type articles, they invariably include a list of reasons why additive manufacturing is not suitable to widespread usage.
Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering led by Professor Yong Chen have demonstrated a new method of 3D printing multiple materials. By "multiple" we mean two materials that can be combined in different ratios. For example, the process can print an object that has both hard and soft portions - in different degrees - and do this in a single print operation.
No technology is perfect upon creation. Consider the evolution of standard 2D printing as an example. In the span of 550 years since Gutenberg printed his first bible, the technology has improved dramatically. We’ve come from the slow and methodical process of movable type understood and available to the few, to professional quality printers in every home with a computer.