Industry News

New Method to Integrate Liquids Directly into 3D Printed Material

Published on 2020-12-18. Edited By : SpecialChem

TAGS:  3D Printing    Medical   

liquid-filled-3dp-objects Chemists at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have developed a method for integrating liquids directly into materials during 3D printing. This means, for example, that active medical ingredients can be built into pharmaceutical products or luminous liquids can be integrated into materials that leak out when the material is cracked and thus indicate the damage.

Overcoming Conventional Methods with New Technique

3D printing is now widespread and is used for a wide variety of applications. As a rule, however, the methods are limited to materials that liquefy, for example, through heating and solidify after printing. If the finished product is to contain liquid components, these are usually added afterwards. That is time-consuming and expensive. "The future lies in more complex methods that combine several production steps," says Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Binder from the Institute for Chemistry at MLU. "That is why we were looking for a way to incorporate liquids directly into the material when it is being printed."

To do this, Binder and his colleague Harald Rupp combined common 3D printing processes with classic printing methods such as those used in ink or laser printers: liquids are added drop by drop at the desired point. In this way, these can be integrated directly and specifically into a material.

Testing Done in Two Ways

The chemists were able to use two examples to show that their process works: On the one hand, they built a liquid active ingredient into a biodegradable material. "We were able to prove that the active ingredient was not influenced by the process and has remained active," said Binder. In pharmacy, such materials are used as active ingredient depots that slowly break down in the body. For example, they can be used after surgery to prevent inflammation. The new process could facilitate their production.

On the other hand, the scientists integrated a luminous liquid into a plastic material. If the material is damaged, it will leak and could indicate damage. "You could imprint something like this on a small part of a product that is particularly heavily loaded," says Binder. For example, in heavily used areas of cars or aircraft parts. So far, according to Binder, damage in plastic materials has been difficult to detect - unlike in metals, where microcracks can be made visible by X-rays. The new approach could thus provide additional security.

The combined process is also conceivable for many other areas of application. The team plans to use the method to print battery parts soon. "Larger quantities cannot be produced with our structure in the laboratory", clarifies Binder. For the industrial scale, the process must be further developed outside the university.

The research was supported by the "Systems and Biotechnology" performance center, the German Research Foundation and the EU as part of the "Horizon 2020" program.

Source: Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
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