Materials: AM’s next frontier of flexibility (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 64)

3D printing has always been a wonderful platform for researchers and engineers to experiment on. The manufacturing concepts behind it make it a very flexible tool to create rapidly and cost-efficiently. Presently, the next frontier of 3D printing’s exploration lies in its materials. That’s because material innovation doesn’t only come from Chemistry (although that’s a major part of it). It also comes from physics – specifically driven by our increased ability through additive manufacturing to control the micro-structure of objects below even 1 micron. Already we are witnessing how the technology can help us envision new and improved ways to build or even react to disaster situations through properties that are commonly hard to apply case-per-case.

Plant Inspires 3D Printed Material for Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Using a method called immersed surface accumulation 3D printing (ISA 3D printing), the researchers [at the University of Southern California] were able to recreate this egg beater microstructure, called the Salvinia effect, using plastic and carbon nanotubes. The result was a material that was both highly hydrophobic and oleophilic, or oil-absorbing. The combination allows oil and water to be efficiently separated.

“We tried to create one functional surface texture that would be able to separate oil from water,” said Associate Professor Yong Chen. “Basically, we modified the surface of the materials by using a 3-D printing approach that helped us achieve some interesting surface properties.”

Read the full article here.

Researchers Use 3D Printing to Create Super-Strong Material

Engineering physics professor Roderic Lakes and graduate student Zachariah Rueger have 3D printed a material that behaves in a manner consistent with the Cosserat theory of elasticity, also known as micropolar elasticity. The theory factors in the underlying substructure of a substance when analyzing its performance in a high-stress environment. Lakes and Rueger used the theory to design a polymer lattice that is about 30 times stiffer when bent than would be predicted by classical elasticity theory.

Read more here.

Elastomeric bioink makes 3D printing more flexible

In a recent study, published in the journal Biofabrication, Burdick’s group carefully altered the viscosity of a biocompatible elastomer so that it could be extruded during printing. At the same time, the scientists formulated their ink to ensure that the material could still be cured effectively with light. If the viscosity was too low, the ink would run too rapidly – which would compromise the fixing stage of the process.

“Until this study, there were few examples of 3D printed elastomers, so it was encouraging to show that photocurable acrylated polyglycerol sebacate is a promising material for the fabrication of elastomeric scaffolds for biomedical applications,” said Jason Burdick of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Bioengineering.

Read the full article here.

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