Virginia Tech Researchers Develop New Microscale, Multimaterial 3D Printing Method

Share this Article

A team of researchers from Virginia Tech University have developed a new method of microscale 3D printing, which uses in-situ resin mixing and robotics to 3D print multimaterial with programmed stiffness – without cross contaminating any of the properties. The researchers have dubbed their new method multimaterial programmable additive manufacturing with integrated resin delivery – say that five times fast – and it could be used in a variety of different applications, such as actuation, aircraft wing structures, artificial muscles, energy absorption, flexible armor, microrobotics, and protective coatings.

Stretching normal material in one direction means that it will shrink in the other direction. But, Virginia Tech’s patented multimaterial process and design makes it possible to create specific modulus (flexibility) distributions in a build, which then allows for programmed shrinkage or expansion to take place throughout the material body; this is known as programmed morphing.

Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, who is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the university’s College of Engineering, as well as a member of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute, explained that this new microscale manufacturing system is also able to be up-scaled to centimeter levels…and even levels above that.

“We use this new technique to create materials with programmed stiffness. Basically, you can program where the modulus is distributed in 3-D. With this programming we can achieve morphing capability—to stretch and deform in different directions,” Zheng explained.

“The technique is a robotic-based additive manufacturing, an integrated fluidic system that allows us to deliver different ink [resin] as feedstock. The process is also self-cleaning so that there is no cross-contamination between inks.”

Zheng certainly knows what he’s talking about, having worked with 3D printing at the nanoscale in the past. He said that 3D printing hopes to get to a place where multiple materials can be used to 3D print a functional device without having to rely on inordinate amounts of extra construction, like welding, tooling, gluing, and fitting.

“Achieving this goal requires us to put an array of different material properties into a single platform and connect them,” Zheng explained. “The added degree of material design freedom allows us to achieve negative, positive-to-zero morphing strains without changing the 3-D micro-architecture of a material.”

A micro-lattice structure made from different materials. Multimaterial programmable additive manufacturing allows for printing materials of different modulus without cross-contamination. [Image: Virginia Tech]

The team has just published a paper on their innovative new microscale 3D printing method in the Scientific Reports journal. This new method uses a robotic material cleansing system so that materials of different modulus can be switched without causing any cross contamination between properties; in-situ resin mixing, delivery, and exchange is also featured in the new technique.

As opposed to traditional 3D printed materials with similar base materials, multimaterial metamaterials feature varying rigidity – for example, rigid brittle in a 3D lattice framework all the way down to a soft elastomeric. This is definitely a change from current 3D printing methods, which can have somewhat limited capabilities in terms of incorporating multiple materials in complex, 3D architectures with microscale resolutions.

“We envision these programmable morphing material concepts will find applications in directional strain amplifications, actuations, flexible electronics, and the design of lightweight metamaterials with tailored stiffness and toughness. The new material design space offered by rapid fabrication of dissimilar material constituents distributed within a micro-lattice architecture opens up new dimensions of 3-D printing of multimaterials with a large degree of stiffness variance,” Zheng said.

What do you think of this story? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your comments below.

[Source: Phys.org]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

WASP’s Dual House 3D Printers Build Innovative Eco-Habitat in Italy

Are We Finally at the Long-Awaited 3D Printing Inflection Point?



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Featured

New Data Report: 3D Printing Revenues Reached $2.12B in Q3 2020, Says SmarTech Analysis

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy took a steep nose dive in 2020. This included the 3D printing market during the first half of the year, but our...

Featured

Dream M&As: 3D Printing Mergers and Acquisitions We’d Like to See in 2021

Inspired in part by the acquisition of EnvisionTEC by Desktop Metal and of Origin by Stratasys, we’ve been brainstorming about the newly hot 3D printing stocks and renewed interest from...

3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup: January 17, 2021

We’ve got all kinds of virtual events and webinars to share with you this week, with topics ranging from 3D design and medical applications to simulation and more. Read on...

Featured

Desktop Metal (DM) Buys EnvisionTEC to Quickly Boost Revenues?

Wow. Publicly traded Desktop Metal (NYSE:DM) has just purchased EnvisionTEC for $300 million in stock and cash. For my part, I would have paid all my money to be a...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.