Engineers Develop Multimaterial Fiber “Ink” for 3-D-Printed Devices

Using the 3-D printing method developed by the MIT researchers, a structure such as this model airplane wing could have both light emitters and light detectors embedded in the material so that it could continuously detect any microcracks as they begin to form (image:  Felice Frankel).

Using the 3-D printing method developed by the MIT researchers, a structure such as this model airplane wing could have both light emitters and light detectors embedded in the material so that it could continuously detect any microcracks as they begin to form (image: Felice Frankel).

September 24, 2019 | Source: MIT News, news.mit.edu.com, David L. Chandler, 11 September 2019

A new method developed by MIT researchers uses standard 3-D printers to produce functioning devices with the electronics already embedded inside. The devices are made of fibers containing multiple interconnected materials, which can light up, sense their surroundings, store energy, or perform other actions.

The new 3-D printing method is described in the journal Nature Communication, in a paper by MIT doctoral student Gabriel Loke, professors John Joannopoulos and Yoel Fink, and four others at MIT and elsewhere.

The system makes use of conventional 3-D printers outfitted with a special nozzle and a new kind of filament to replace the usual single-material polymer filament, which typically gets fully melted before it’s extruded from the printer’s nozzle. The researchers’ new filament has a complex internal structure made up of different materials arranged in a precise configuration, and is surrounded by polymer cladding on the outside.

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