New multimaterial, rotational 3D printing process developed by researchers at Harvard

A brand new rotational, multi-material 3D printing course of has been developed by a group of researchers throughout completely different institutes at Harvard College.

The group was trying to mimic the helical buildings that represent organic methods, and create a technique of 3D printing that might permit for the design of buildings which might be capable of contract. 

The group consisted of researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson College of Engineering and Utilized Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Impressed Engineering at Harvard College.

Within the human physique, proteins assemble into helical filaments to permit for the contraction of muscle mass. Crops can change form as a result of helical cellulose fibres inside the cell partitions. Supplies in nature are hardly ever straight.

The group of researchers developed a 3D printing course of to imitate this and used it to design and fabricate synthetic muscle mass and springy lattices to be used in tender robotics and structural functions. 

“Our additive manufacturing platform opens new avenues to producing multifunctional architected matter in bio-inspired motifs,” mentioned Jennifer Lewis, the Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Impressed Engineering at SEAS and senior creator of the examine, and Core College member of the Wyss Institute.

The printhead created by the group consists of 4 cartridges, every containing completely different supplies. The inks are fed by means of a nozzle that permits a number of supplies to be printed directly. The nozzle rotates which makes the extruded inks kind the filament with embedded helical options.

Learn extra: Harvard College and MIT produce absorbent 3D print supplies with ceramic foam ink

“Rotational multi-material printing permits us to generate useful helical filaments and structural lattices with exactly managed structure, and in the end, efficiency,” mentioned Natalie Larson, postdoctoral fellow at SEAS and first creator of the examine.

The group printed synthetic muscle mass within the type of helical ‘dielectric elastomer actuator filaments’ that may contract underneath an utilized voltage, in collaboration with David Clarke, the Prolonged Tarr Household Professor of Supplies. The conductive electrodes kind intertwining helices encapsulated in a tender elastomer matrix.

Based on the group, by tuning how tightly the helical electrodes are coiled, a contractile response of the actuators will be programmed.

Structural lattices with various stiffness had been additionally designed, by embedding stiff helical springs inside a tender, compliant matrix, much like how springs work in a tender mattress. The group says that the general stiffness of the fabric will be tuned by tuning the tightness of the springs within the matrix.

Potential functions for the structural lattices embody joints or hinges in tender robotic methods, based on the group.

Larson added: “By designing and constructing nozzles with extra excessive inner options, the decision, complexity, and efficiency of those hierarchical bio-inspired buildings could possibly be additional enhanced.”

Wish to talk about? Be part of the dialog on the TCT Additive Manufacturing Community.  

Get your FREE print subscription to TCT Journal.

Exhibit on the UK’s definitive and most influential 3D printing and additive manufacturing occasion, TCT 3Sixty.