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MIT Researchers Develop Self-Peeling Droplets For Controlled Adhesion in 3D Printing

A new finding by MIT researchers could have implications for how 3D printed surface coating is carried out. The technique employs the use of self-peeling metallic droplets and increased adhesion through thermal control of the surface. They can also increase the adhesive capabilities of the droplets by changing their relative temperature to the surface.

“Since the degree to which droplets stick or don’t depend on a material’s thermal properties, it’s possible to tailor those properties based on the application. We can imagine scenarios where thermal properties can be adjusted in real time through electric or magnetic fields, allowing the stickiness of the surface to impacting droplets to be adjustable.” Said Dan Soto, one of the researchers on the project.

They think this may be able to help the surface coating industry as well as 3D printing technologies. As a result of this research, tech start-up DropWise (which is also affiliated with the lead researchers on this project) is looking to produce energy efficient coatings for the power industry.

The research has broad implications for many fields that use droplets. This could be a game-changer for various types of printer, especially those that employ the use of metal inkjetting. It could provide better surface adhesion through the use of selective temperature applications.  It can also change the level of wastage, while providing better prints.

Aside from the actual printing it could also have potential uses in coating or coloring metal parts. Adhesion of droplets could act in a similar fashion to 2D printing tech. Another application could be in developing support structures of varying strength and adhesion. Other than strengthening adhesion it could also apply weaker levels of it to the print to serve as a removable base.

While the research is still fresh, the researchers have shown how well it operates. There is no doubt that it has implications for 3D printing and many other industries.

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