Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

On June 30th 2021, Dartmouth College (Dartmouth) of Hanover, New Hampshire spoke of its Ke Functional Materials Group using a process that uses heat to change the geometric arrangement of rings in a chemical’s molecular structure to create 3D printable gels that can fold, roll or just hold their shape. The researchers’ work was published in the journal Chem.

The team named their new process kinetic trapping, using substances called molecular stoppers, which regulate the number of rings going onto a polymer chain and control their spatial arrangement. Dartmouth claimed that when these rings on the polymer chain are physically close together, they store kinetic energy that can be released in a similar manner to releasing energy from a compressed spring.

To demonstrate their concept, the team 3D printed a flower-shaped structure using an ink produced via their process. When exposed to moisture, the flower’s soft petals closed, in contrast to its firmer parts, which didn’t react. Dartmouth argued that this was caused by different parts of the flower having different levels of flexibility, due to the spatial arrangement of rings in the molecular structure of the 3D printing ink used to make the flower.

Dartmouth argued that the ability to 3D print objects with different mechanical properties from a single ink could make 3D printing complex objects simpler and less expensive. The researchers hope to refine their method to use it to 3D print objects that could be used in medical devices or industrial processes, potentially even including soft robots powered simply by varying levels of humidity in the air.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

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