3D printing is all the rage in a variety of industries, from ambitious DIYers to military and industrial manufacturing. Currently, 3D printers use a range of epoxies and resins as their ink. However, recent advances in 3D printing technology show that aluminum might be the next big thing in 3D printing. From My Fox Philly:


Right now, the Vader Printer, as it’s known, is not exactly a desktop item. It’s huge, heavy, and expensive, as pilot projects often are. As such, it’s not really ideally suited to consumers who want the convenience of fabricting metal objects at home, but it’s not inconceivable that such printers could make their way into hardware stores and other locales for custom printing projects — a Los Angeles plumber, for instance, could fabricate plumbing components on demand. And, maybe someday, consumers will have their very own 3D printers at home to make whatever they want.


This system replaces existing three dimensional metal “printing” techniques, many of which involve the use of lasers to carve away at metal blocks, or the deposition of metal filings as opposed to liquid droplets. If it’s successful, the Vader could become a leader in the field of 3D metal printing, paving the way for further refinements to create custom hardware and other components at a fraction of current costs, which is good news for everyone, including architects, scientists, electricians, and more.


What could you do with aluminum and 3D printing? For the construction industry, that could mean all sorts of custom screws, fasteners, brackets, bolts and more, opening the door to non-standard design possibilities. That’s just the start; other industries could easily take advantage of this technology, particularly where materials stronger than a plastic resin are necessary.