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Old 04-26-2018, 06:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The future is jelly

Everyone in a while I visit Physics.org and they bu-low my mind. So now the future of 3D printing is in gels.

phys.org:Researchers print inside gels to create unique shapes

3D printing has come a long way in a short time, objects are now being created around the world in ways unimaginable just a few decades ago. But despite the gains that have been made there is still one problem area: printing objects that tend to collapse during the printing process. Imagine trying to print a jellyfish for example, the material that makes up its body would sag after the first few injections preventing the rest of the creature from being printed. To get around this problem, researchers have been experimenting with scaffolding, and gels. Hard scaffolding only works in very limited applications—gels on the other hand, can be used in nearly limitless ways. They work by holding the object in place while it is being printed. In this new effort, the researchers have refined the process to the degree that they were able to print extremely thin walled closed shells and delicate branched networks.
All righty then. The next story is about 4D printing in gels:

phys.org:Smart ink adds new dimensions to 3-D printing

By using a combination of new techniques in the pre-printing and post-printing processes, researchers were able to reduce printed objects to 1 percent of their original sizes and with 10-times the resolution. The 3D printed objects can even be animated to repeatedly expand and contract in size through the use of supramolecular pillars. With fluorescent trackers, the objects can be made to change color in response to an external stimulus such as light.

The ability to reduce the size of an object after printing while preserving functional features and increasing resolution allows inexpensive printers to print high-resolution objects that were once only possible with much more sophisticated printers.
To create the smart ink, researchers used a polymer-based "vehicle" that integrates intelligent molecular systems into printing gel and allows for the transformation of their functions from the nanosacle to the macroscale.

While most materials are readily hardened during the 3D printing process, the new process introduces a series of post-printing reactions which lock the active ingredients together and retain the form of the molecular structure throughout the printing process.

The result is a printed object with a molecular design that is programmed to transform itself: If you provide it with chemical fuel, it changes shape. If you shine a light on it, it can change color.
Long story short: soft robots.


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