Researchers Develop Self-Healing Glass for 3D Printing

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 - 12:45

Researchers from National central University, Taiwan have developed a UV and heat resistant, self-healing emulsion glass for 3D printing.

The impressive arsenal of properties makes the liquid-like solid (LLS) material perfect for a supporting medium, whereby UV and heat-curable inks (aka resins) can be ‘3D written’ directly into it and cured independently of the surrounding LLS, 3D printing Industry reports.

According to the researchers, LLS materials can be used as a robust supporting medium for liquid inks. Using them to hold the ink in place while the ink solidifies helps maintain the intended written geometry. Without a supporting medium, gravity and the surface tension of the ink would result in fluid instability (a hot mess).

With the aim of developing the next-generation of supporting media, the research team first mixed a specially formulated silicone oil with sorbitol and water to form an aqueous solution. From this, they extracted a “stable emulsion glass” which would go on to be used as the experimental supporting medium. The team opted to use PDMS elastomer as the ink which would be 3D written into the emulsion glass and cured. The 3D writing device (a syringe pump with a nozzle diameter of 1.83mm) was constructed from scratch.

The researchers also concluded that the densely packed oil droplet structures in the aqueous matrix gave the glass its extreme elasticity. This translated to a “self-healing” ability where any holes or incisions made in the glass would automatically close over.

Further details of the study can be found in the paper titled ‘UV-resistant Self-healing Emulsion Glass as a New Liquid-like Solid Material for 3D Printing’. It is co-authored by Ssu-Wei Hu, Pin-Jung Sung, Thao Phuong Nguyen, Yu-Jane Sheng, and Heng-Kwong Tsao.

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