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3D Printed Structures Made Entirely of Liquid

Digital Trends writes of a brand-new 3D printing technique developed by scientists at Berkeley Lab, in conjunction with the Department of Energy.  These researchers have developed “a way to construct 3D structures completely made from liquid.”

In order to accomplish this, the researchers “used a modified 3D printer to inject tiny streams of water, some as small as one millimeter in diameter, into silicone oil to sculpt tubes of liquid within another liquid.”  This technique could come in handy when it comes to liquid electronics and the creation of flexible devices.

As Visiting Faculty Scientist Tom Russell explains: “It’s a new class of material that can reconfigure itself, and it has the potential to be customized into liquid reaction vessels for many uses, from chemical synthesis to ion transport to catalysis.”

For this technique to work, “the water doesn’t disperse into droplets when it’s injected, due to a nanoscale ‘surfactant’ coated inside the injecting tubes, which surrounds the water, reduces surface tension, and separates the water from the silicone oil.  A ‘nanoparticle supersoap’ comprised of gold nanoparticles and binding polymers forms around the water threads and locks the structures into place.”  This was all done via a modified standard 3D printer.

The structures created by way of this technique are endlessly reconfigurable.  “The technology may also lead to fabrication of complex coatings with specific magnetic properties, or even electronics capable of repairing themselves.”

Image, Video, and Quotes Courtesy of Digital Trends

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