ETH Zurich researchers develop bioinspired approach to 3D print recyclable materials (video)

Fused deposition modeling (FDM), often simply referred to as 3D Printing, has been hailed as the future of manufacturing. Researchers at ETH Zürich have developed a bioinspired approach to 3D print recyclable materials using cheap desktop printers that outperform state-of-the-art printed polymers and rival the highest performance lightweight materials. This will finally enable the manufacturing of complex parts that mimic natural structural designs on the mass market.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM), often simply referred to as 3D Printing, has been hailed as the future of manufacturing. However, the bad mechanical performance of parts produced by FDM compared to conventionally manufactured objects has limited its use to prototyping. Therefore, despite its promise of mass customization, FDM 3D Printing has not been adopted by industry for production. Researchers at ETH Zürich have developed a bioinspired approach to 3D print recyclable materials using cheap desktop printers that outperform state-of-the-art printed polymers and rival the highest performance lightweight materials. This will finally enable the manufacturing of complex parts that mimic natural structural designs on the mass market. 3D Printing, particularly FDM, makes it possible to produce unique complex parts quickly and at a low cost by sequentially depositing beads of a molten polymer. However, the available polymers are relatively weak and the printed parts show poor adhesion between the printed lines. Because of these limitations FDM has not yet been successfully implemented in commercial products. Traditionally, people increased the performance of polymers by including strong and stiff fibres such as glass or carbon fibres into the material. Although the resulting materials exhibit very high strength and stiffness, the energy- and labour-intensive fabrication process as well as the difficulty to recycle state-of-the-art composites represent major challenges today. read more

source: www.mat.ethz.ch