3D printing materials are one of the most rapidly growing segments of the 3D printing industry, and we have more high-tech and advanced material options than ever before. But usable 3D printable material options are always going to be limited to the technology of the 3D printer being used. There are currently several high-strength and lightweight materials available, however truly advanced composites are currently beyond the capabilities of modern 3D printing. Because many composites require the multiple materials to be arranged in very specific micro-scale structures while being formed, current technology is simply incapable of using them.But a team of engineers from the University of Bristol — comprising Thomas M. Llewellyn-Jones, Bruce W. Drinkwater and Richard S. Trask — have developed a new hybrid type of 3D printing that can both assemble and print with composite materials using a combination of desktop 3D printer technology, light-curable resins and ultrasonic waves. This new process can allow super strong and lightweight composites like the variety used to produce tennis rackets, golf clubs, professional bicycles or even airplane parts to be used with additive manufacturing technology. Needless to say these new material options will offer entire new industries the ability to incorporate 3D printing into their manufacturing workflow. And the best part is that for the most part the process was made using existing 3D printing technology.
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