A new method of microscale 3-D printing features in-situ resin mixing, delivery and exchange, and a robotic material cleansing system to allow switching between materials of different modulus, or flexibility, without cross-contamination between properties.
Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering and a member of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute, said the microscale manufacturing system can be up-scaled to the centimeter levels and above.
“We use this new technique to create materials with programmed stiffness,” said Zheng. “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.”
With normal material, stretching in one direction will cause the material to shrink in the opposite direction. The new patented process and design allows designers to create very specific modulus distributions within a build to allow for programmed morphing—where programmed expansion or shrinkage can occur throughout the material body.
“The technique is a robotic-based additive manufacturing, an integrated fluidic system that allows us to deliver different ink [resin] as feedstock,” Zheng said. “The process is also self-cleaning so that there is no cross-contamination between inks.”
thumbnail courtesy of phys.org