Full color 3D printers not high-tech enough for you? How about one that can work in the anti-gravity conditions of space? Meet Mataerial, designed by Petr Novikov and Saša Jokić. Instead of extruding filament in layers, the machine pushes out polymers from a nozzle, much like a tube of toothpaste. The new technique, which they call “Anti-Gravity Modeling,” allows the polymers to harden in mid-air while also keeping the printer from clogging and adding strength to the printed structure.
According to the designers, the Mataerial is able to fabricate objects down to 1mm and up to as large as a conventional 3D printer used in industrial construction. Syringes of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black can adjust the color in real time as it comes out of the nozzle. The speed of the robotic arm can be varied to either thin or thicken the polymers. Since the process is not affected by gravity, almost anything can become a work surface. Curves are formed by the device, so support structures are not required to fashion an object. They were able to find a way to make the viscous substrate solid as soon as it left the printer without damaging the machine or compromising the integrity of the material.
The team began their work with the Mataerial as a project through Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and Joris Laarman Studio. Their advancements are currently awaiting a patent. Imagine being able to deploy a number of these printers onto a body in outer space to create a base or repair existing structures? Without requiring scaffolding or gravity to function, the Mataerial could revolutionize manufacturing both in space and here on Earth.