New progress has been made in continuous fiber composite 4D printing

4D printing structures can produce programmable shape and performance changes under external stimuli, so they have a wide range of application prospects in aerospace, soft robots, biomedical and other fields. However, the current 4D printing structure usually cannot take into account the large deformation ability and mechanical bearing capacity, and cannot achieve multi-functional integration.

The scientific research team of Xi’an Jiaotong University proposed a direct-writing 4D printing method based on continuous fiber reinforced liquid crystal elastomer by using the reversible thermally induced telescopic deformation ability of liquid crystal elastomer and the excellent mechanical properties of continuous fiber materials, and the continuous fiber embedded in the liquid crystal elastomer composite material played a significant role in enhancing the mechanical properties and realizing the bending deformation effect.

4D printing of continuous fiber-reinforced liquid crystal elastomer composites. (Photo courtesy of Xi’an Jiaotong University)

The printing method can realize the controllable bearing characteristics and deformation form of the printing structure by adjusting the offset position of the fiber inside the composite wire. The printed liquid crystal composite can withstand loads up to 2805 times its own weight and achieve a bending curvature of 0.33 mm-1 at 150 °C. This process is used to prepare composite truss structures with bearing capacity and deformation ability, which solves the problem of poor mechanical bearing performance of traditional 4D printing structures.

Recently, the research results were published in the journal Nature Communications with the title “4D printing of controlled biased continuous fiber/liquid crystal elastomer composites with programmable spatial deformation ability”. (Source: Yan Tao, China Science News)

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