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Researchers at Purdue university’s Zucrow Labs, the largest academic propulsion lab in the world, have developed a process which enables them to 3D print extremely viscous materials, with the consistency of clay or cookie dough with fine precision. This development may soon allow the creation of customized ceramics, solid rockets, pharmaceuticals, biomedical implants, foodstuffs, and more.
Purdue Univeristy assistant professor Emre Gunduz used ultrasonic vibrations to maintain a flow of the material through the printer nozzle. (Image: Jared Pike, Purdue University)
Materials - Consistensies - One - Emre - Gunduz
"It’s very exciting that we can print materials with consistensies that no one’s been able to print." says Emre Gunduz, assistant research professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering. "We can 3D print different textures of food; biomedical implants, like dental crowns made of ceramics, can be customized. Pharmacies can 3D print personalized drugs, so a person only has to take one pill, instead of 10."
Previously, manufacturers would change a material’s composition to make viscous materials printable, but the Purdue team took a completely different approach.
Form - Printing - Extrusion - Gunduz - Prototypes
"The most common form of 3D printing is thermoplastic extrusion," Gunduz says. "That’s usually good enough for prototypes, but for actual fabrication, you need to use materials with high strength, like ceramics or metal composites with a large fraction of solid particles. The precursors for these materials are extremely viscous, and normal 3D printers can’t deposit them, because they can’t be pushed through a small nozzle."
"We found that by vibrating the nozzle in a very specific way, we can reduce the friction on the nozzle walls, and the material just snakes through," Gunduz says.
Purdue - Team - Items - 100-micron
The Purdue team has been able to print items with 100-micron...
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