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Redo Those Ruined Prints

Bend and Customize Finished 3D Prints with “Hotflex” Composite

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Mar 8, 2017
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With their new composite “Hotflex”, German computer scientists found a way to customize 3D prints after they have been printed. 

How many prints have you thrown out after realizing that they need just a slight change? How many iterations did you need to get that perfect angle for a prototype? Unfortunately, there’s no room for even simple changes or improvements. So far, an unwritten rule says: “What‘s 3D printed, stays 3D printed”.

That rule might change thanks to researchers at Saarland University in Germany. They want to make 3D printing more adaptable.

In order to bring about such modifications, they are working on using specific composite elements to merge into 3D prints. These elements are positioned at pre-determined points. The composite material is called Hotflex.

Daniel Gröger is a doctoral student with the Cluster of Excellence at Saarland University. He is working with the head of the chair for Human-Computer Interaction at Saarland University, Jürgen  SteimleThey describe this process as: “post-print customization of 3D prints using embedded state change.”

Check it out in the video below:

What’s the Idea Behind Hotflex?

The Hotflex is composed of several different layers. The mid-layer is capable of emitting heat, if hooked up to an Arduino mini computer. Once the layer is switched on, the 3D printed object can be bent and changed in a moment. You can fix your previously spoiled 3D print and transform it into something new.

Although it is only the middle layer which is controlled by the Arduino, both of the other layers also play an important role. These include a moldable, biodegradable layer and an outer layer made of flexible plastic.

The researchers were able to 3D print the composites. To do this, they simply required standard 3D printers but used specific filament. They used a Makerbot Replicator 2 and Leapfrog Creatr HS.

Hotflex can be used for many different things, not just for bending ruined 3D prints. Another use would be to make 3D printed objects which can display information or are responsive to touch. These uses were demonstrated by the scientists with prototypes such as jewelry boxes that open with knocks. They also developed adjustable bracelets, which you can see in the image below. Gröger says:

“We are presently integrating our flexible heating structures into the workpieces during the printing process. But this will soon also be done automatically.”

Interested in finding out more? Their idea is being presented at the CeBIT computer fair in Hannover, Germany (Hall 6, Stand E28) This event will be run from March 20th to 24th 2017.

Source: Science Daily

License: The text of "Bend and Customize Finished 3D Prints with “Hotflex” Composite" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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