MMaterialsgateNEWS 2018/03/07

Related MaterialsgateCARDS

Modified, 3D-printable alloy shows promise for flexible electronics and soft robots

Credit: Oregon State University

Researchers in Oregon State University’s College of Engineering have taken a key step toward the rapid manufacture of flexible computer screens and other stretchable electronic devices, including soft robots.

The advance by a team within the college’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute paves the way toward the 3D printing of tall, complicated structures with a highly conductive gallium alloy.

Researchers put nickel nanoparticles into the liquid metal, galinstan, to thicken it into a paste with a consistency suitable for additive manufacturing.

“The runny alloy was impossible to layer into tall structures,” said Yiğit Mengüç, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and co-corresponding author on the study. “With the paste-like texture, it can be layered while maintaining its capacity to flow, and to stretch inside of rubber tubes. We demonstrated the potential of our discovery by 3D printing a very stretchy two-layered circuit whose layers weave in and out of each other without touching.”

Findings were recently published in Advanced Materials Technologies.

Gallium alloys are already being used as the conductive material in flexible electronics; the alloys have low toxicity and good conductivity, plus they’re inexpensive and “self-healing” – able to attach back together at break points.

But prior to the modification developed at OSU, which used sonication – the energy of sound – to mix the nickel particles and the oxidized gallium into the liquid metal, the alloys’ printability was restricted to 2-dimensional.

For this study, researchers printed structures up to 10 millimeters high and 20 millimeters wide.

“Liquid metal printing is integral to the flexible electronics field,” said co-author Doğan Yirmibeşoğlu, a robotics Ph.D. student at OSU. “Additive manufacturing enables fast fabrication of intricate designs and circuitry.”

The field features a range of products including electrically conductive textiles; bendable displays; sensors for torque, pressure and other types of strain; wearable sensor suits, such as those used in the development of video games; antennae; and biomedical sensors.

“The future is very bright,” Yirmibeşoğlu said. “It’s easy to imagine making soft robots that are ready for operation, that will just walk out of the printer.”

The gallium alloy paste demonstrates several features new to the field of flexible electronics, added co-corresponding author Uranbileg Daalkhaijav, Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering.

“It can be made easily and quickly,” Daalkhaijav said. “The structural change is permanent, the electrical properties of the paste are comparable to pure liquid metal, and the paste retains self-healing characteristics.”

Future work will explore the exact structure of the paste, how the nickel particles are stabilized, and how the structure changes as the paste ages.

Source: Oregon State University – 05.03.2018.

Investigated and edited by:

Dr.-Ing. Christoph Konetschny, Inhaber und Gründer von Materialsgate
Büro für Material- und Technologieberatung
The investigation and editing of this document was performed with best care and attention.
For the accuracy, validity, availability and applicability of the given information, we take no liability.
Please discuss the suitability concerning your specific application with the experts of the named company or organization.

You want additional material or technology investigations concerning this subject?

Materialsgate is leading in material consulting and material investigation.
Feel free to use our established consulting services

MMore on this topic

Credit: Rob Wolfs

3D-printed materials commonly are soft and flexible during printing, leaving printed walls susceptible to collapse or falling over. Akke Suiker, professor in Applied Mechanics at Eindhoven University of Technology, had a Eureka moment and saw the solution to this structural problem.

He developed a model with which engineers can now easily determine the dimensions and printing speeds for which printed wall structures remain stable. His formulae are so elementary that they can become commonplace in the fast growing field of 3D printing. Conventional concrete deposited in formwork typically is allowed to harden over period of several weeks. But 3D-printed concrete is not. With no supporting formwork, it almost immediately has to bear the weight of the subsequent layers of concrete that are printed on top of it. Everybody can feel the tension rising in their body as the structure gets higher. Is it already stiff and strong enough to add yet another layer on top? It is one... more read more

Credit: Daehoon Han/Rutgers University–New Brunswick

3D printing becomes 4D as objects morph over time and temperatures change

Rutgers engineers have invented a “4D printing” method for a smart gel that could lead to the development of “living” structures in human organs and tissues, soft robots and targeted drug delivery. The 4D printing approach here involves printing a 3D object with a hydrogel (water-containing gel) that changes shape over time when temperatures change, said Howon Lee, senior author of a new study and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. The study, published online today in Scientific Reports, demonstrates fast, scalable, high-resolution 3D printing of hydrogels, which remain solid and retain their shape... more read more

Credit: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering / David Baillot

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first soft robot that is capable of walking on rough surfaces, such as sand and pebbles. The 3D-printed, four-legged robot can climb over obstacles and walk on different terrains.

Researchers led by Michael Tolley, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of California San Diego, will present the robot at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation from May 29 to June 3 in Singapore. The robot could be used to capture sensor readings in dangerous environments or for search and rescue. The breakthrough was possible thanks to a high-end printer that allowed researchers to print soft and rigid materials together within the same components. This made it possible for researchers to design more complex shapes for the robot’s legs. Bringing together soft and rigid materials will help create a new generation of fast, agile robots that are... more read more

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated that permanent magnets produced by additive manufacturing can outperform bonded magnets made using traditional techniques while conserving critical materials.

Scientists fabricated isotropic, near-net-shape, neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) bonded magnets at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine. The result, published in Scientific Reports, was a product with comparable or better magnetic, mechanical, and microstructural properties than bonded magnets made using traditional injection molding with the same composition. The additive manufacturing process began with composite pellets consisting of 65 volume percent isotropic NdFeB powder and 35 percent polyamide (Nylon-12) manufactured by Magnet Applications, Inc. The pellets were melted, compounded, and extruded layer-by-layer by... more read more

More on this topic:


Partner of the Week

Search in MaterialsgateNEWS

Books and products