Martin Luther University (MLU) scientists have developed a new method for integrating liquids directly into materials during the 3D printing process.
“The future lies in more complex methods that combine several production steps,” contends MLU professor Wolfgang Binder. “That is why we were looking for a way to integrate liquids directly into the material during the printing process.”
The new process could enable luminous liquids to be integrated into materials so as to allow for monitoring of damages in cars or aircraft that are under a lot of strain. It could also be used for detecting cracks in plastic materials.
Binder and his colleague Harald Rupp combined common 3D printing processes with traditional printing methods such as those used in inkjet or laser printers.
Liquids are added drop by drop at the desired location during the extrusion of the basic material. This allows them to be integrated directly and into the material in a targeted manner.
When the material becomes damaged, the liquid leaks out and indicates where the damage has occurred.
“You could imprint something like this into a small part of a product that is exposed to particularly high levels of stress,” notes Binder.
It could also be used for monitoring damages in plastic materials which have so far been hard to detect; it is easier to detect damage to metals as X-rays expose micro-cracks.
According to Binder, the combined process is also conceivable for many other areas of application. He and his team are mulling on using the method to print battery parts.
Image and content: Harald Rupp/Martin Luther University