TED2015: Truth and Dare featured 12 sessions of amazing speakers. During the first session, called Opening Gambit, Joseph DeSimone spoke about the exciting future of three-dimensional printing. What we now call three-dimensional printing is, in reality, simply two-dimensional printing done over and over again. Because of this approach, the printing process takes a significant amount of time. DeSimone drew inspiration from a very unlikely source, the movie Terminator 2, to reinvent the wheel and approach the printing process in a way that is 25 to 100 times faster. His technique has the potential to create smoother, stronger parts in significantly less time.
DeSimone’s approach to three-dimensional printing uses standard theorems from polymer chemistry related to how light and oxygen interact with resin. Light converts liquids to solids, and oxygen inhibits this process. By regulating the amount and intensity of light, as well as the exposure to oxygen, scientists can have significant control over the growth of a solid out of a puddle of polymer. Sophisticated software alters oxygen content and light, and therefore viscosity and geometry, to create finished products in a revolutionary way.