New 3-D Printing Method For Objects With Shape Memory

New 3-D Printing Method For Objects With Shape Memory

Experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a groundbreaking method for manufacturing products. This 3-D printing method could put to use on a large scale in future.

Throughout the years, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made a lot of discoveries in the science field. But now, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a 3D printing mechanism for objects. The objects know their shape and regain shape, even after stretching or bending.

As a result, this technology has applications in solar panels and even the medical field. For instance, capsules could only release the active ingredient once the fever is found.

According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology statement, the MIT team developed the method in association with researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Together, scientists crafted materials which regained their original shape, even after bending.

Additionally, other possible uses of the new technological breakthrough are gadgets in solar panels. They’d work by turning the panels automatically towards the sun. Or drugs that make their own decisions once they are in the human body.

Breakthrough Technique – 4D printing

The technique is different from 3D printing, so experts now call it 4D printing. That’s because these elements cross into the fourth time dimension.

According to Professor Nicholas X. Fang, the material which makes up the technology is called a shape memory polymer. Professor Fang teaches mechanical engineering at MIT. These polymers transform according to temperatures.

What’s more, in the end this novel technology will use body heat as a trigger. Additionally, with an improved design, the polymers could turn into smart medicines. But they would only activate when one needs them to.

Qi “Kevin” Ge, a fellow researcher in the project, explains the differences between 4D and 3D printing.

The 4D printing technique allows for printing on a micron-level. It also uses shape-memory polymers which can be significantly stretched or bent. That’s something traditional 3D printers cannot do.

Furthermore, the 4D printing method has a variety of uses. Manufacturers can use the tech to produce components of biomedical gadgets, space crafts or solar batteries.

In their experiment, Fang and his team used soft elements, like shape-memory polymers. One day, they could help us design better bio-med devices, soft robots, sensors or laboratory muscles. All in all, the authors of the research have found the polymers “particularly interesting.”

Polymers -the material of the future

The polymers can shift between states – they get hard at low temperatures and they soften at high temperatures.

If these materials are manipulated correctly, they change shape very fast. In nature, plants release pollen in nanoseconds. That’s because they have good mechanisms, at a very small scale.

For example, a miniature of the Eiffel Tower looked completely bent at room temperature. After applying heat, the Eiffel Tower regained shape.

Moreover, the new 4D printers support a pixel-size print. This allows objects to change shape very quickly, in just a few seconds. Smaller scales could lower the response time to nanoseconds.

Other 4D printed materials included coils, flowers or claws. They sustained significant stretching and they did not break. After exposing them to temperatures of up to 180 degrees Celsius, scientists found that the objects came back to their original shapes.

Image Source – Pixabay

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