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Wood and spider silk have inspired the development of a new desktop 3D printable material that reportedly outperforms “state-of-the-art printed polymers”. Developed by a team of researchers at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, this bioinspired material contains liquid crystal polymer (LCP) particles that rival the use of glass and carbon fiber reinforcements.
Though a common means of reinforcement, the high stiffness of glass and carbon fibers can make materials brittle. It is also difficult to recycle fiber-reinforced polymers. Looking for a stronger and ecological alternative to these additives, the Complex Materials and Soft Materials groups at ETH Zürich turned to LCPs.
LCPs - Class - Polymers - Melt-processing - Comparison
LCPs are a class of aromatic polymers created via melt-processing. They are extremely inert and fire-resistant. In comparison to other polymers, LCPs are also incredibly easy to produce, with a low raw material cost that undercuts carbon fiber manufacturing.
Research - ETH - Zürich - Groups - LCP
In this latest research from ETH Zürich, the groups used an LCP as a feedstock for a commercially available FFF/FDM 3D printer.
Firstly, when 3D printed, LCP molecules self-assembled in the direction of deposition to achieve unprecedented mechanical properties – likened to the molecular alignment of spider silk.
Orientation - Part - Print - Layers - Team
Secondly, by tailoring the orientation of a part’s print layers, the team were able to 3D print the LCP to account for specific loading conditions, as with wood grain.
Results of the study found that “By orienting the...
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