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Researchers develop extremely expandable foam resin for SLA 3D printing

A workforce of researchers from UC San Diego’s Division of NanoEngineering has developed an expandable foaming resin to be used with SLA 3D printers.

The resin, which is able to heat-induced growth post-UV-curing, permits for the manufacturing of components considerably bigger than the construct quantity of the printer used to manufacture them.

3D printed resin sphere undergoing expansion. Photos via UC San Diego.3D printed resin sphere present process growth. Images through UC San Diego.

Geometric limitations

Half manufacturing utilizing fashionable manufacturing strategies, each additive and subtractive, is usually restricted by the workspace or construct space of the machine. For that reason, massive mechanical methods are inclined to comprise smaller components that are mounted, welded, or adhesively bonded collectively.

The researchers set out with the aim of breaking the restraints of those geometric limitations, citing potential functions in technologically demanding fields comparable to structure, aerospace, power, and biomedicine.

3D printing expandable resin

The primary part of the examine was centered on choosing a monomer that may act because the constructing block for the polymer resin. The monomer needed to be UV-curable, have a comparatively brief treatment time, and show fascinating mechanical properties appropriate for higher-stress functions. The workforce, after testing three potential candidates, finally settled on 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (we’ll simply name it HEMA).

As soon as the monomer was locked in, the researchers got down to discover the optimum photoinitiator focus together with an acceptable blowing agent to pair the HEMA to. Two photoinitiator species had been examined for his or her willingness to treatment underneath commonplace 405nm UV lights that are generally present in most SLA methods. The photoinitiators had been mixed in a 1:1 ratio and combined in at 5% by weight for probably the most optimum consequence. The blowing agent – which might be used to facilitate the growth of the HEMA’s mobile construction, leading to ‘foaming’ – was a bit trickier to search out. Lots of the examined brokers had been insoluble or troublesome to stabilize, however the workforce lastly settled on a non-traditional blowing agent usually used with polystyrene-like polymers.

The advanced combination of components was used to formulate the ultimate photopolymer resin and the workforce started working on 3D printing just a few not-so-complex CAD designs. The fashions had been 3D printed on an Anycubic Photon at 1x scale and heated at 200°C for as much as ten minutes. The warmth decomposed the blowing agent, activating the foaming motion of the resin and increasing the dimensions of the fashions. Upon evaluating pre- and post-expansion dimensions, the researchers calculated volumetric expansions of as much as 4000% (40x), pushing the 3D printed fashions previous the dimensional limitations of the Photon’s construct plate. The researchers consider this know-how may very well be used for light-weight functions comparable to aerofoils or buoyancy aids as a result of extraordinarily low density of the expanded materials.

3D printed models before and after heat treatment. Photos via UC San Diego.3D printed fashions earlier than and after warmth remedy. Images through UC San Diego.

Additional particulars of the examine will be discovered within the paper titled ‘Extremely Expandable Foam for Lithographic 3D Printing’. It’s co-authored by David Wirth, Anna Jaquez, Sofia Gandarilla, Justin Hochberg, Derek Church, and Jonathan Pokorski.

Materials scientists have been mixing and modifying resins for so long as resins have existed, attempting to change their chemical compositions and mechanical properties for a variety of functions. Supplies specialist Sartomer has beforehand partnered up with Ohio-based chemical start-up Sirrus to develop fast-curing resins for lithographic 3D printing. The resins are primarily based on the copolymerization of methylene malonates and methacrylates, which is claimed to hurry up the UV-curing course of. Elsewhere, on the College of Toronto, Scarborough, researchers have formulated 3D printing resin from extra McDonald’s cooking oil.

The nominations for the 2020 3D Printing Business Awards at the moment are open. Who do you assume ought to make the shortlists for this 12 months’s present? Have your say now. 

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Featured picture reveals 3D printed fashions earlier than and after warmth remedy. Images through UC San Diego.


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