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3D Printing Magnetic Structures

Science Daily reports on brand new findings published in the scientific journal Nature.  Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have managed to develop 3D printed magnetic Structures.

Using a new method of additive manufacturing, the researchers believe their methods could “be used to develop remotely controlled biomedical devices.”  These soft 3D printed structures have movements capable of “being controlled with a wave of a magnet, much like marionettes without the strings.  The menagerie of structures capable of being magnetically manipulated includes a smooth ring, which wrinkles up, a long tube squeezing shut, a sheet folding itself, and a spider-like ‘grabber’ which crawls, rolls, jumps, and snaps together fast enough to catch a passing ball.”

The Noyce Career Development Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Xuanhe Zhao explains these 3D printed magnetic robots’ real-world potential: “this technique may be used to fabricate magnetically controlled biomedical devices.  We think in biomedicine this technique will find promising applications.  For example, we could put a structure around a blood vessel to control the pumping of blood, or use a magnet to guide a device through the GI tract to take images, extract tissue samples, clear a blockage, or deliver certain drugs to a specific location. You can design, simulate, and then just print to achieve various functions.”

Professor Zhao’s colleague Yoonho Kim adds: “There is no ideal candidate for a soft robot that can perform in an enclosed space like a human body, where you’d want to carry out certain tasks untethered.  That’s why we think there’s great promise in this idea of magnetic actuation, because it is fast, forceful, body-benign, and can be remotely controlled.”

Professor Zhao concludes: “”We have developed a printing platform and a predictive model for others to use. People can design their own structures and domain patterns, validate them with the model, and print them to actuate various functions.  By programming complex information of structure, domain, and magnetic field, one can even print intelligent machines such as robots.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Nature and Science Daily

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