Technique enables adaptable 3-D printing Featured

    Once fabricated, objects can be altered by adding new polymers.
    MIT 3D Printing 1 press Web
    MIT chemists have now developed a 3-D printing technique that allows them to print objects and then go back and add new polymers that alter the materials’ chemical composition and mechanical properties. These new polymers can be reactivated by light. Image, Demin Liu and Jeremiah Johnson

    Three-dimensional printing technology makes it possible to rapidly manufacture objects by depositing layer upon layer of polymers in a precisely determined pattern. Once these objects are completed, the polymers that form the material are “dead” — that is, they cannot be extended to form new polymer chains.

    MIT chemists have now developed a technique that allows them to print objects and then go back and add new polymers that alter the materials’ chemical composition and mechanical properties. The researchers can also fuse two or more printed objects together to form more complex structures.

    “The idea is that you could print a material and subsequently take that material and, using light, morph the material into something else, or grow the material further,” says Jeremiah Johnson, the Firmenich Career Development Associate Professor of Chemistry at MIT.

    This technique could greatly expand the complexity of objects that can be created with 3-D printing, says Johnson, the senior author of a paper describing the approach in the Jan. 13 issue of ACS Central Science. The paper’s lead authors are former MIT postdoc Mao Chen and graduate student Yuwei Gu.

    back to newsletter

    Read more at the MIT News Office.

    Anne Trafton | MIT News Office
    January 13, 2017