Comprehensive coverage

Researchers have succeeded in printing materials that are capable of changing themselves

Using XNUMXD printers and ink based on natural materials, university researchers are able to print wood and plan its shape while drying. "The development will revolutionize the design and construction of buildings that change themselves," shares one of the researchers

XNUMXD printing. Image: depositphotos.com
XNUMXD printing. Image: depositphotos.com

In a new study recently published in the journal Polymers, a team of researchers from the university succeeded in imitating the natural assembly process of wood using XNUMXD printers. The research results develop a new approach to designing and modeling objects that are able to design themselves. The research was conducted under the leadership of Prof. Eran Sharon from the University's Institute of Physics, Prof. Oded Shusiov from the Faculty of Agriculture and Prof. Shlomo Magdessi from the Institute of Chemistry, in collaboration with doctoral students Doron Kam and Ido Levin.

Research in recent years has led to the development of smart materials that make it possible to imitate the way nature produces shapes, and from this to develop new methods for planning and building buildings that change their shape. One of the most common materials used by man is wood, a smart material that shrinks when it dries, and so often, wooden structures such as fences and tables left outside will warp over time. In an attempt to imitate the natural assembly process of wood, the team of researchers succeeded in developing a method for printing surfaces that shrink and change into a variety of shapes according to pre-programming. The XNUMXD printing with the new method makes it possible to produce complex structures with a minimum of waste. Furthermore, an ink based on natural plant materials is used. "The ink material is unique to us and consists of wood-based objects that can be dried and obtained from them a variety of deformations and shapes that could not be obtained naturally in the past", shares the doctoral student Kem.

Prof. Sharon explains that in fact, "Doron has developed an advanced ability to print wood with a XNUMXD printer, and now we are able to plan the rate and direction of contraction of the printed body during drying, which determines its XNUMXD shape." During the research, the new method created strips of wood that can mimic the twisting of seed pods during drying. With reference to the final products, Prof. Shusiov adds that "We manage to obtain a surface curvature that could not be obtained by other means. For example, with normal paper folding we cannot get the shape of a saddle, while with the new method it is possible."