Greenwood, California — — The technology to fire a beam of lasers at a point, much like a wood stove, is getting a boost.
The University of California, Irvine researchers have developed a 3-dimensional laser system that can replace wood fire apparatuses with 3D printing and other technology, according to a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials.
It’s not clear what uses the technology will have, but it could be used in factories that use plastic and metal materials to create a plastic-free and carbon-neutral building.
The research was conducted by UCLA professor Robert Zaleski, a member of the department of mechanical engineering.
The paper is titled, “Light-based thermal deposition (LTD) of composite materials to produce low-cost 3D printed wood products using an optical laser.”
It also describes the 3-d laser system used to print plastic-based materials, and details the process that’s used to produce them.
Zaleski is the lead author of the paper.
He says the system could be a viable alternative to traditional printing techniques for 3D materials, because it can use less power.
“Lithium-ion batteries are still the most commonly used batteries in buildings.
They have low operating temperatures, low power consumption, and high reliability,” Zalesky said.
“The advantage of using laser-based thermoplastic printing, rather than conventional thermoplastics, is that it’s much more environmentally friendly.”
Zalesky says laser printers can be used to manufacture plastic, glass, metals, and even ceramics, which are commonly used in home furnaces.
The new system is designed to be printed using a laser-emitting diode (LED), which produces a beam that’s directed to a metal substrate, such as wood.
That material is then coated with a chemical mixture that traps the light in a layer of material, and can be fired at a target to generate a desired output.
The researchers say their technology could help with the creation of new materials that have properties that aren’t found in nature, such with materials that can be formed into shapes or structures, such a carbon-based material, Zalesk said.
“Our 3-V laser system, for instance, is able to produce high-quality 3D wood products,” Zalski said.