The 3D Printable Materials research area is focused on developing new materials for 3D printing and characterizing them. These material formulations are made in our lab, and are readily printable through various types of deposition such as multi-material inkjet printing and robocasting. Their electro-mechanical properties range from very soft and stretchable, to hard and tough, to conductive and insulating. By precisely controlling the amount and location of deposition for different materials, we can manufacture many new materials in-situ during the print process. These materials possess homogeneous and heterogeneously varying electro-mechanical properties, and are difficult to fabricate through other forms of manufacturing. Part of this research involves characterizing the materials, some of which are treated as bulk continuous materials with properties that are controlled by the print process, while others are metamaterials that can be controlled on the fly by external stimuli.
Metamaterial Design and Fabrication
The Greek roots of metamaterial - beyond matter - convey the promise of ongoing research into this new branch of material science.
Through advanced additive manufacturing techniques, we create metamaterials with controlled microstructures that drive macro-scale mechanical properties not found in natural materials.
We create software tools to precisely specify the design of a metamaterial at the length scale of tens of microns. Applications of these materials are wide and not fully explored.
Our software pipeline enables the fabrication of materials with strongly anisotropic damping properties, tunable elastic and viscoelastic properties, locally varying stiffness and buckling responses, and dynamically adjustable stiffness.
Lattices with Dynamically Alterable Stiffness Properties
Dynamically adjustable material properties are an interesting field of research and additive manufacturing allows for rapid development of metamaterials that exhibit interesting properties. One such example is that with 3D printing we can make hollow lattice structures that can be stiffened by inflating the lattice tubes.