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Your location: Home > Related Articles > Researchers at Rice University are advancing the manufacturing of complex deformable soft robots

Researchers at Rice University are advancing the manufacturing of complex deformable soft robots

Author:QINSUN Released in:2024-01 Click:95

Researchers from universities around the world have been researching how to reconfigure their software robots and medical implants according to their needs. Thanks to the efforts of researchers from the Brown School of Engineering at Rice University, this deformable material is closer to reality. Scientists have developed a method for printing objects that can be manipulated into other forms when exposed to temperature changes, current, or pressure.

Researchers believe that this is reactive 4D printing. Since 2018, scientists have been able to create structures in molds that can change shape, but the same chemical composition used in 3D printing restricts the structure to shapes on the same plane. This means that materials with varying shapes cannot be designed with protrusions or other complex curves as their alternating shapes.

To overcome this limitation, researchers decoupled the printing process from the shaping process. Researchers say that once the materials they design are manufactured, they can autonomously change their shape. The team's idea is to sequentially use multiple reactions to print the material and then decide how it changes shape. The new method is not an attempt to complete all shape changes in one step, but rather provides more flexibility in controlling the initial and final shapes.

The big challenge is to create a liquid crystal polymer ink that combines a set of mutually exclusive chemical links between molecules. For example, once these two programmed forms are reset, the material can deform back and forth during heating or cooling. One challenge is to find a polymer mixture that can be printed in a catalyst bath while still maintaining its original programmed shape.

One remaining limitation of the new process is the ability to print unsupported structures, such as columns. A solution is needed to achieve this, as its degree of gelation is sufficient to support itself during the printing process. Researchers are working hard to achieve this goal, which, once achieved, will enable them to print more complex shape combinations.