In a new development, researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design have developed a new technique to adopt Freeform Liquid 3D Printing technology for 3D printing of more solid and geometrically complex elements for soft robotics.
In fact, FL-3DP is a rising technology with high capacity that enables 3D printing of multi-matter functional constituents. The technology uses gel as a temporary dissolving medium in which inks are forced out and held in place. On solidification of the inks, the gel can then be easily washed off.
Importantly, the approach overcomes two key shortcomings of existing 3D printing technologies. First, the technology enables the 3D printing of materials that take a long time to solidify when forced out. Secondly, the ability of the technology to hold inks and maintain them in a liquid state, the existence of advanced geomteries such as overhanging structural shapes with high aspect ratios or exceptional combinations of multiple matter is now a feasible option.
However, earlier version of FL-3DP displayed limited features when creating advanced constituents as only mono-material structures or simple shapes such as shells and meshes could be demonstrated. Despite the promise of this technology, the absence of more complex demonstrators could be partly explained by challenges in controlling the interfaces between the inks and supports, and thus impact the printing resolution.
The undertaking of an in-depth study of interfacial stabilities and rheological properties between inks and support gels assisted researchers at Singapore University of Technology and Design managed to better anticipate the shape of the filament resulting in improved printing resolution and fidelity.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the study enabled the full use of FL-3DP technology through the fabrication of complex elastomer-based components.