Why AOM is like other 3d printing methods, just it is better
May 24, 2013
Explaining how anti-gravity object modeling (AOM) compares to the family of most common 3d printing approaches
We’re thankful for the interest that so many of you took in the project. Now that you’ve had a glimpse at Mataerial, we’d like to share with you some more details on the technology and its potential. Today we’ll explain how anti-gravity object modeling (AOM) compares to the family of most common 3d printing approaches.
3D printing has been around for over 20 years, but only in recent years we see the influx of projects trying to commoditize the technology. As it commonly happens with breakthrough inventions, 3D printing was incepted by different people at almost the same time. The first method was Stereolithography patented in 1986 (Charles Hull), followed by Selective Laser Sintering (Carl Deckard, Joe Beaman), and Fused Deposition Modelling in 1992 (Scott Crump).
Stereolithography utilizes a focused lazer to cure liquid polymer yielding great precision (layers of 0,016mm). SLS is quite similar to Stereolithography but uses powder as a base material instead. FDM is based on extrusion of heated plastic. The three most popular methods use different technological solutions, but are similar in that they create 2D layers to recreate a given 3D model. This brings us to certain limitations of these methods:
dependance on support material for printing hanging elements (like on the photo above, taken from here)
constrained to completely horizontal printing surfaces
challenges of printing in zero-gravity
Our goal with Mataerial project was to develop a method that could overcome these limitations. Fast-forward over a hundred experiments we arrive at a solution that uses thermosetting polymers. The magic behind what you see in the demo video is a chemical reaction that solidifies mixing polymers exactly by the time they are extruded. This allows us to print on horizontal, vertical, smooth or irregular surfaces, without the need for additional support structures.
Some skepticism about AOM approach was summed up nicely by a commenter to Dezeen article showcasing Mataerial project:
In fact, AOM can achieve exactly same results as common 3D printing layers because extrusion of thermosetting polymers can be easily used for creation of flat 2D layers too. It’s a simple matter of adjusting extrusion path. Moreover, you can print flat layers at any angle, even on a vertical wall, unimaginable with FDM for example.