Novel 3-D manufacturing builds complex, bio-like materials

Washington State University researchers have developed a unique, 3-D manufacturing method that for the first time rapidly creates and precisely controls a material’s architecture from the nanoscale to centimeters – with results that closely mimic the intricate architecture of natural materials like wood and bone.

The work has many high-tech engineering applications, architecturing of materials at nano- to macroscales with applications in batteries, lightweight ultrastrong materials, catalytic converters, supercapacitors and biological scaffolds.

Manufactured 3-D electronic interconnects light an LED

Manufactured 3-D electronic interconnects light an LED. (Source: WSU.edu)

The WSU research team used a 3-D printing method to create foglike microdroplets that contain nanoparticles of silver and to deposit them at specific locations. As the liquid in the fog evaporated, the nanoparticles remained, creating delicate structures. The tiny structures, which look similar to Tinkertoy constructions, are porous, have an extremely large surface area and are very strong.

Silver was used because it is easy to work with. However, the method can be extended to any other material that can be crushed into nanoparticles – and almost all materials can be.

Because it uses 3-D printing technology, the new method is highly efficient, creates minimal waste and allows for fast and large-scale manufacturing.

>> Read more by Tina Hilding, WSU News, March3, 2017