MIT Develops Adaptable 3D Printing To Change Objects After Making

Posted: Jan 18 2017, 5:08am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

MIT Develops Adaptable 3D Printing to Change Objects After Making
MIT chemists have now developed a 3-D printing technique that allows them to print objects and then go back and add new polymers that alter the materials’ chemical composition and mechanical properties. These new polymers can be reactivated by light. Image Credit: Demin Liu and Jeremiah Johnson
  • Adaptable 3D Printing is Possible using Light in the Setup

Apparently, adaptable 3D printing is possible using light in the setup.

3D printing techniques enable the quick manufacturing of objects via the deposition of layer upon layer of polymers in a precision-based manner. Once the process is over, the polymers are for all purposes inert. In other words, they cannot be enhanced to form novel polymer chains.

Chemists at MIT have developed a new method that allows not only the printing of objects but also allows the controlling agent to go back and forth adding new polymers into the original material. This automatically changes the polymer’s chemistry and physical structure.

Thus two or more physical objects could be fused together at their very basic levels to give rise to a new material that is unlike the original materials. This is synergy at its best. You can print an object and then take that object and using light to morph it into something else altogether.

Furthermore, you can even cause growth of this material into a number of new states. This method could lead to the expansion of the range of products that arise as a result of 3D printing.

3D printing has additive manufacturing as a sub-branch. This is also called stereolithography. Via the shining of light into a solution of monomers, layers of solid polymers are produced. The final shape is thus given to what was an amorphous blob.

Adaptable 3D printing procedures were made possible several years ago when scientists started the technique of living polymerization. This makes materials that can have their formation halted at any stage and restarted again.

UV light rays come in handy in this methodology. UV light breaks apart objects that had been printed in a 3D manner. This creates free radicals. These in turn can bind to new monomers thereby incorporating new stuff into the original material.

Turn the light on and the chains grow. Turn it off and the chains stop growing. This process could be continued indefinitely and so the material could undergo growth for an infinitely long period of time.

Yet there was a snag in all this. The free radicals caused reactivity and so the material could be damaged beyond recognition. Thus the researchers created new polymers that behaved differently in light.

The chemistry of these polymers was such as resembles a folded accordion. They were called TTCs. Blue light from an LED shone on these TTCs and caused changes to take place smoothly without any unnecessary damage.

The material acquires new properties along the way. The only limitation to this method is that an oxygen-free environment is required for it to work.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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