3D printing is amazing enough on its own, but when it becomes 4D printing, it’s even more incredible. The fourth dimension in 4D printing is time, and 4D printed items can change shape or self-assemble over time, with some kind of a stimulus. 4D print technology continues to become more advanced and complex, and researchers at Dartmouth College have advanced it further with the development of a smart ink that changes both shape and color.
“This technique gives life to 3D-printed objects,” said Chenfeng Ke, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Dartmouth. “While many 3D-printed structures are just shapes that don’t reflect the molecular properties of the material, these inks bring functional molecules to the 3D printing world. We can now print smart objects for a variety of uses.”
To create the smart ink, the researchers used a polymer-based “vehicle” that integrates intelligent molecular systems into printing gel and transfers their functions from the nanoscale to the macroscale. This results in a printed object with a molecular design that is programmed to transform itself. It can change shape with a chemical stimulus, for example, or change color if a light is shined on it.The researchers used a combination of new techniques in both pre- and post-printing to reduce 3D printed objects to one percent of their original size at 10 times the resolution. They were also able to get the objects to repeatedly expand and contract using supramolecular pillars.
“This is something we’ve never seen before,” Ke said. “Not only can we 3D print objects, we can tell the molecules in those objects to rearrange themselves at a level that is viewable by the naked eye after printing. This development could unleash the great potential for the development of smart materials.”
The smart ink can print at a 300-micron resolution, but the final product is 30 microns.
“This process can use a $1,000 printer to print what used to require a $100,000 printer,” said Ke. “This technique is scalable, widely adaptable and can dramatically reduce costs.”
The new process allows designers to retain specific molecular functions and alignments in a material and then convert them for 3D printing. By reducing the size of the object after printing, researchers can preserve functional features and increase the resolution. Eventually, the researchers believe, the technology could be used for intelligent three-dimensional systems that can dynamically change their configuration, as well as for a new class of macroscale 3D printed objects that can deliver medicine or produce high resolution bone replacements.
“We believe this new approach will initiate the development of small molecule-based 3D printing materials and greatly accelerate the development of smart materials and devices beyond our current grasp that are capable of doing complex tasks in response to environmental stimuli,” the researchers stated.
The research was published in a paper entitled “Hierarchical Co-Assembly Enhanced Direct Ink Writing,” which you can access here. Authors include Longyu Li, Pengfei Zheng, Zhiyun Zhang, Qianming Lin, Yuyang Wu, Alexander Cheng, Yunxiao Lin, Christina M. Thompson, Ronald A. Smaldone, and Chenfeng Ke.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Source: R&D Magazine]
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and recieve information and offers from thrid party vendors.
You May Also Like
3D Printing News Briefs, June 30, 2022: Nuclear Power Filters, Fuzzy Filament, & More
We’re starting with a 3D printed part for the nuclear powder industry in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs. Then we’ll move on to two separate research projects, before ending with...
3D Printing News Briefs, June 25, 2022: Partnerships, Research, & More
In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, 3DOS and Ivaldi are working together to deliver on-demand critical parts for heavy industries in Africa, and ASME published an AM design standard based...
Brinter Bioprinter Now 3D Prints Pet-Friendly Pharmaceuticals
3D printed medications, while not yet mainstream, do exist, and the technology enables more personalized pharmaceuticals. A team of researchers from Åbo Akademi University in Finland are using the modular 3D...
3D Printing Webinar and Event Roundup: June 12, 2022
We have another busy week of webinars and events, starting with an international conference on powder metallurgy. In addition, Stratasys is continuing its Experience Tour, TriMech will discussing managing data...