3D Acoustic Levitation Printing
Keeping up to date with developing technology has become as easy as checking an app or following the right twitter feed.
My latest concept came to me after reading a report by Slash Gear about “Pixie Dust”. It is proposed as a Graphical Levitation System, in development at the University of Tokyo by Yoichi Ochiai and his team who are using acoustic levitation to suspend polystyrene balls in an array and then project images to create a floating display.
What is Acoustic Levitation?
Acoustic levitation is the suspension of an object using standing waves, it has been around since 1975 when Whymark used a transducer and a reflector plate to generate the standing wave. A patent was filed in 1978 by Charles A. Rey which is worth a look, among other things there are several fascinating applications of the technology proposed.
Watch The Video
The best way to understand Acoustic Levitation is to watch the video below. It explains very briefly about standing waves being used to suspend an object and demonstrates this amazing technology.
Build Your Own
If you want to try this out for yourself then you can head over to Sonic Levitation’s website they had a successful Kickstarter campaign and are selling kits similar to Whymark’s first set up for about $150.
Using Acoustic Levitation to 3D print
So putting current limitations of the technology aside for a moment, let’s assume that resolution, force and control will all increase over time. Remember the idea of this website is to look at concepts without worrying too much about the practicalities.
If some method of fusing the suspended particles together could be implemented then you would essentially have a method instantaneous 3D printing. You could make the suspended objects expand and fuse together, perhaps manipulate a molten metal in a micro gravity environment, suspend a powdered metal and use induction to heat to a fusible state. You could consider enveloping the suspended matrix in an adhesive mist etc….
There are plenty of issues with all of these ideas but I think they are worth looking into so I thought I would sketch up one idea.
Using specially prepared suspension particles impregnated with a bonding agent. Then exposing to microwaves causing the particles to rapidly expand, “pop” and bond to an adjacent particle.