The application of 3D printing has gradually expanded from rapid prototyping to tissue engineering, electronic devices, and software robots. However, most of the current 3D printing methods can only print parts with a single material property or multiple discrete material properties, and cannot control complex mechanical gradients. Because of this, it is becoming more and more important to realize 3D printing of functionally graded materials with adjustable material properties in a single printing process.
In a research, the printed pattern is photocured by grayscale processing, so that the structure at a specific position has customized mechanical properties, and then the second step of thermal curing is performed to eliminate most of the residual monomers and enhance the performance gradient. By using this method, a customized distribution of the mechanical properties of the printed structure can be achieved, which can be used for printing 2D and 3D lattice and unit cell structures, and can be used for functional applications of metamaterials.
First, the researchers designed a printing system that uses a two-step curing mixed ink. By using matlab code to process each image after slicing, the grayscale distribution is generated according to the required attributes, and then the images of each layer processed into grayscale patterns are printed.
Second, the researchers used the advantage of DLP technology to print hollow structures, designed and manufactured a variety of printing structures, and controlled the compression deformation of the printing structure through specific grayscale processing.
It cannot be ignored that there are still some urgent problems in this method. First, the resolution of the printing structure will be affected by the printer, printing materials and printing parameters. Secondly, the relationship between the molecular structure of the material used and the mechanical properties of the printed structure needs to be further understood using nanoscale mechanical testing and modeling methods. Looking to the future, the gray-scale processing DLP printing method has great potential in the application of pre-surgery model planning, software robots, and anti-counterfeiting.
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