Tokyo University Students Develop 3D-printing Pen


Published Date : Feb 23, 2016

The 3D-printing industry is ripe with research experiments, technological advancements, and newer inventions are entering the market every other day. With the promise of many innovative offerings, the market for 3D-printing is continuously expanding and reaching out to several applications in a number of industries.

A recent innovation seeks to change the way architectural structures are traditionally made. A group of students in the University of Tokyo have developed a 3D-printing pen that can construct what are described by the team as large scale hand drawn architectural structures with the use of plastic sticks.

The structures are developed when a user physically prints out thermoplastic filament strings, with the help of a digital tracking system.

The researchers say that the technology can help in proving that human instincts still have a very important role in digital construction technologies. Technology in the field of architecture has been traditionally employed to replace and automate human labor. But the issue with approach is that it does not take advantage of human intuition while fabrication of structures. The researchers believe that their discovery can bridge this gap between human-made production and machines.

The largest structure built so far by the team is a small pavilion that is on display at a gallery in Tokyo. For building the structure, the researchers used the 3D-tracking system for calculating the positioning of sticks in realtime, which helped the user with the 3D-printing pen.

Strings of thermoplastic filament are emitted from the pen when the pen’s trigger is squeezed. The strings are initially hot, sticky, and vicious. But when they cool, they become more like slightly bendy plastic.

Researchers believe that the pen can be used to develop structures much bigger than traditional 3D printers, which can until now produce objects only of equivalent size, and can also easily develop complicated forms of structures.

The structures are currently meant to be temporary and can last for about nine months. But the structures can be strengthened with the help of extra strings, which can be used for reinforcing weak areas, and can be later adapted for different functions.