Home Research & Education Chinese researchers develop 3D printable elastomers with high strength and toughness

Chinese researchers develop 3D printable elastomers with high strength and toughness

Researchers at Zhejiang University have developed 3D printable elastomers with exceptional strength and toughness, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

Recently, progress in ultra-fast 3D printing of photopolymers has alleviated the problem of manufacturing efficiency. However, the mechanical performance of typical printed polymers falls short of the capabilities of conventional processing techniques. The team developed a 3D photo-resin printing chemistry that produces an elastomer with a tensile strength of 94.6 MPa and a toughness of 310.4 MJ m-3. These values far exceed the previously achievable properties of all 3D-printed elastomers.

“To make 3D printing technology adaptable to more scenarios, it is necessary to alter the material properties,” said Fang Zizheng, a researcher from the university.

To demonstrate the performance of the new material, the researchers printed a rubber band and carried out stress tests. The tests showed that the rubber band could be stretched to nine times its original length and withstand a tensile strength of 94 MPa without tearing. In addition, the researchers produced objects such as balloons that exhibited excellent puncture resistance.

These advances could make 3D printing an even more attractive option for industrial manufacturing by significantly improving the mechanical properties of printed materials. The study shows that through targeted changes in material chemistry, 3D printing can be harnessed for a variety of new applications, opening the door for innovative products in numerous industries.

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