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Researchers develop 3D printable elastomers with exceptional strength


An illustration of a 3D printer. /CFP
An illustration of a 3D printer. /CFP

An illustration of a 3D printer. /CFP

Researchers from Zhejiang University in east China's Hangzhou City have developed 3D printable elastomers with exceptional strength and toughness, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

The research marks a breakthrough in overcoming material limitations in 3D printing technology, bringing new hope for its large-scale application in the manufacturing of high-performance products, according to Wu Jingjun, a professor from the university.

3D printing has emerged as an attractive manufacturing technique because of its exceptional freedom in producing geometrically complex customizable products. However, its potential for mass manufacturing is hampered by its low print speed and insufficient mechanical properties.

Recent progress in ultra-fast 3D printing of photo-polymers has improved manufacturing efficiency. However, the mechanical performance of typical printed polymers still falls far behind what is achievable with conventional processing techniques.

"To make 3D printing technology adaptable to more scenarios, it is necessary to alter the material properties," said Fang Zizheng, a researcher from the university.

The researchers developed a 3D photo-printable resin chemistry that yields an elastomer with a tensile strength of 94.6 MPa and toughness of 310.4 MJ m-3, both of which far exceed those of any 3D-printed elastomer.

The researchers printed a rubber band using this new material and conducted endurance tests on it. The experiments showed that the rubber band could be stretched up to nine times its original length and withstand a tensile strength of 94 MPa without breaking.

Additionally, the researchers used the material to create objects like balloons with excellent puncture resistance.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
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