Hybrid 3D printing achieves the ability to effectively produce liquid filled objects

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This 3D printing technique opens doors to many valuable applications in healthcare, automotive, etc.

3D printing is slowly becoming a technique for mass production and is now being used for a variety of applications in healthcare, space, education, automotive, etc. 

Normally, 3D printing is popular with materials that are liquefied with the application of heat and are solidified after printing. 

If there is a need to have a liquid material inside the finished product, it’s usually added afterward. This makes the entire process time-consuming & expensive.

Anything that can directly integrate liquids into the material during the printing process itself can make the process simple and cost-effective. This is what exactly has been conceived and developed by a team of researchers led by Professor Wolfgang Binder from the Institute of Chemistry at MLU

3D-printed object (right) with a lattice structure (left) containing the liquid Harald Rupp

The Technology

In the new method, common 3D printing processes have been combined with traditional printing methods. For instance, those implemented in inkjet or laser printers. Drop by drop addition of liquids at the desired location during the extrusion of the basic material allows their integration directly into the material in a targeted manner. 

The Outcome

Experiment 1: 
By integrating an active liquid substance into biodegradable material, the researchers have been able to prove that the active ingredient is not affected by the printing process and remains active. 

Application:
They can find the application in the pharmaceutical industry where such materials are utilized as drug depots that can be slowly broken down by the body. Thus, they can be used to prevent inflammation after operation. 

Experiment 2:
The scientists integrated a luminous liquid into a plastic material. When the material gets damaged, the leaking liquid indicates the location of the damage. “You could imprint something like this into a small part of a product that is exposed to particularly high levels of stress,” says Binder. 

Application:
Hence it can be used in parts of cars & aircraft that are under a lot of strain. ‘Difficult to detect’ damages in plastic materials where X-rays cannot be used to reveal micro-cracks could be easily detected safely using this technology.

To Wrap Up

Printing of liquid-filled parts in one go has made the 3D printing technology more versatile than before and has augmented its reach into the fabrication of objects that could once be manufactured only with the traditional techniques.

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