Modern 3D printers are built for one thing: reproducing 3D designs in a printer’s native material. If you want your design in a different material, you’ll need to use a different printer; or at least that used to be the case.
A new 3D printing technique, developed by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Western Ontario, could allow users to alter a single printing material for a variety of custom applications.
To develop this new technique, the Chinese-Canadian team began by impregnating 3D printing resin with bromine-containing acrylate. Once printed, this acrylate allows hair-like polymer brushes to grow on the surface of the print. The hairs are then altered through the use of surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization to take on any number of different properties.
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