Researchers at Princeton Engineering have borrowed techniques from inkjet printers and have rolled out a pixel-by-pixel method to program and manufacture soft structures for use in biomedical devices, robotics or architectural features.
The new technique fabricates pixelated sheets of soft matter which is as easy as pressing a button. Every pixel can be programmed in a unique manner to create mechanical abilities and composite colors and shapes. And it works with a class of materials that cannot be printed with 3D printers or conventional inkjets.
Simplicity of methodology is the selling point here. All it requires is two plates with a bunch of holes. The materials initiate as fluids that transform into solids once they are parked. The key lies in the manner fluids flow as they set out.
A detailed understanding of the behaviour led the team of researchers to create the composite substances without using complicated equipment. Instead, the team let nature do the work.
Meanwhile, the new approach that applies age-old fluid dynamics for modern day materials problems keeps cost low without cutting corners. This will result in a structure that is very accurate. The frugal approach adopted is not a compromise on quality.
The findings of the study are published in the May 22 edition of Advanced Materials. The study extends additive manufacturing into new substance verticals that are especially useful in biologically influenced designs.
In terms of function, the pixels in an inkjet printer uses four droplet colors to create very large number of apparent color tones. The dots can be fabricated into myriad shapes that ranges from simple letters to elaborate trees which depends on the way they are arranged on paper. In fact, scientists have desired to do something similar with soft composite substances.