Paola Singer, MassDevice staff
Three-dimensional printing could be coming to an office near you, courtesy of Objet Geometries Ltd.
The Billerica-based firm is showing off its desktop 3D printer, the Alaris 30, at the MD&M East convention in New York.
The printer can construct finely detailed 3D models of medical instruments, prosthetics and dental devices in minutes. That gives small enterprises such as doctors’ offices access to an extremely useful — and formerly ultra-expensive — technology. Dentists, for example, can quickly create a model of a patient’s jaw to manufacture dental bridges, retainers and other appliances.
The device uses a proprietary “Polyjet Photopolymer Jetting” technology to produce plastic objects of up to 11.5 x 7.7 x 5.9 in. The objects are notably precise: according to company specifications, the Alaris 30 can deposit layers as thin as 25 microns (a micron is one-millionth of a meter). It’s also capable of creating complex geometries, moving parts (no assembly required!) and walls as thin as 0.6 millimeters.
More accessible 3D printing means greater possibilities for direct manufacturing. In the not-too-distant future, 3D printers could be used by children at home to make toys, or by sports companies to design custom clothes and shoes.
And if the technology is perfected, a printer could use biological cells for the production of cartilage and replacement skin.