Home Research & Education University of Florida: New 3D printing method to reduce costs

University of Florida: New 3D printing method to reduce costs

Engineers at the University of Florida have developed a method for 3D printing called VIPS-3DP (vapor-induced phase-separation 3D printing), which can be used to produce both single-material and multi-material objects.

Yong Huang, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, explains that the printing process he and his colleagues developed enables manufacturers to produce customized objects economically and sustainably. The innovative method was presented on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

“It is more economical and much simpler than current counterpart technologies,” he said. “It’s an affordable process for printing advanced materials, including metals.”

The special ability of this process is to print parts with spatially customizable, multi-level porosity. This means that structures can be created that have different materials and porosity levels at different locations. The porosity of the objects can be controlled by adjusting the printing conditions or by using sacrificial material during the VIPS 3DP process. This is particularly useful for the production of porous medical implants or lightweight aerospace products.

“This is a promising method for creating metallic products that require different levels of porousness,” said Marc Sole-Gras, Ph.D., the first author of the paper and a former graduate student in Huang’s lab. “A good example of this is in bone tissue engineering. We can print an implant that is appropriately porous to ensure it integrates with the surrounding human cells.”

The VIPS-3DP technology, which requires less investment in infrastructure and is more sustainable than traditional printing methods, uses environmentally friendly materials and saves energy. The technology has been licensed by the university, is protected by two patents and was developed with funding from federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

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