ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY

China University of Science and Technology proposed a new 3D printing method for thermosetting materials


Li Mujun, associate professor of the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Equipment, School of Engineering Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Wang Liu, specially appointed professor of the Department of Modern Mechanics, and Yong Chen, professor of the University of Southern California, proposed an in-situ double heating (ISDH) strategy, which successfully realized ink direct writing (DIW) printing of thermosetting materials with a variety of rheological properties and functional properties. The results of the study were recently published in Nature Communications.

Schematic diagram of in-situ dual heating (ISDH) printing thermosetting materials Courtesy of China University of Science and Technology

The thermosetting material forms a three-dimensional spatial network structure after crosslinking, which has excellent mechanical properties and stability. In recent years, thermosetting materials have played an increasingly important role in soft robotics and flexible electronics. New soft robots put forward higher requirements for complex structure and functionality, and it is of great significance to develop a simple, universal and inexpensive thermosetting material manufacturing method for them. However, 3D printing of thermoset materials still has many limitations, such as curing principles, rheology of materials, and molding efficiency.

In this work, the researchers proposed that the dual heating method of rapid heating of the adjacent layer and Joule heater heating can make the representative thermosetting material Sylgard 184 cure within 2s at the fastest, so as to successfully realize the direct 3D printing of unmodified low-viscosity Sylgard 184, and the mechanical properties of the printed structure are similar to the mold casting structure. The dimensional scalability of the method was verified by using nozzles of different diameters, achieving a maximum print height of 120 mm and a resolution of 50 microns. The authors demonstrate ISDH prints of a batch of thermoset materials with different properties with dynamic viscosity changes spanning five orders of magnitude, including Newtonian fluids, shear thinning fluids, and yield stress fluids.

The work also demonstrates the rich functionality of ISDH printing, including printing multi-material heterostructures and magnetically responsive flexible structures with different NdFeB content (such as flexible vascular stents). In combination with the “pick-and-place” process, ISDH printing can also manufacture flexible electronic devices. These results show that ISDH printing has broad application space in emerging soft robots, flexible electronics and other fields. (Source: Wang Min, China Science News)

Related paper information:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-35929-y



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