Researchers Use Inkjet Printing, Light to Convert Plastic Sheets into 3D Objects
The researchers developed a computer-based model to explain how the process works. There were two key findings. First, the surface temperature of the hinge must exceed the glass transition temperature of the material, which is the point at which the material begins to soften. Second, the heat has to be localized to the hinge in order to have fast and effective folding. If all of the material is heated to the glass transition temperature, no folding will occur.
“This finding stems from work we were doing on shape memory polymers, in part to satisfy our own curiosity. As it turns out, it works incredibly well,” Dickey says.
The paper, “Self-folding of polymer sheets using local light absorption,” was published Nov. 10 in the journal Soft Matter, and was co-authored by Dickey; NC State Celanese Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Jan Genzer; NC State Ph.D. student Ying Liu; and NC State undergraduate Julie Boyles. The work was supported, in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy.
NC State’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is part of the university’s College of Engineering.
Source: North Carolina State University.