Scientists at Iowa State University and the University of California at Santa Barbara are working on a multi-material for 3D printing that will enable different properties in one resin. Using different wavelengths of light, this would allow flexible areas to be printed in certain places and rigid areas in others.
According to project leader Adarsh Krishnamurthy of Iowa State University, this is a revolution for materials in 3D printing. Currently, the researchers are working on medical applications where different stiffnesses would be beneficial, as with bone and tissue.
The project is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation with 1.9 million U.S. dollars. The goal is to develop novel materials using AI and machine learning. The researchers are creating a “digital twin” to predict resin properties and narrow down the search.
If they succeed in locally varying the properties of light-based resins, it would be a small revolution for 3D printing. Instead of different materials, the entire range could be covered with one resin. However, research is still in its infancy. Whether the innovation will catch on remains to be seen.