Home Research & Education Seoul National University: New method for multi-material FDM 3D printing

Seoul National University: New method for multi-material FDM 3D printing

Researchers at Seoul National University have developed a new two-step process for FDM 3D printing. This makes it possible to produce components with specifically varying material properties. Typically, FDM printers can only process one type of filament at a time, which severely limits the possibilities for spatial control of the material mixture.

The scientists’ solution is a so-called “digital material” (DM). Here, different base materials are combined layer by layer to form a single filament. When extruded through the nozzle, these then mix to form a homogeneous functional material with the desired properties.

In the study, published in the journal Nature, the researchers demonstrate that this method, known as blended FDM (b-FDM), can achieve significant variations in properties such as strength, electrical conductivity and color within a component. Production is carried out using commercially available FDM printers and filaments.

In their experiments, the scientists combined conductive PLA with elastic TPU, for example. The resulting test specimens exhibited up to 168% higher stretchability with the same conductivity up to 69% stretch – ideal for stretchable sensor technology. Another example shows a foldable gripper with brittle segments, soft joints and integrated sensors made from just one b-FDM filament.

Further details can be found in the paper “3D printing with a 3D printed digital material filament for programming functional gradients

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