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Scientists Create Active 3D Printer Plastic

Active 3D Printer Plastic

Researchers have managed to use a commercial 3D printer to create active 3D printer plastic which could help break down pollutant particles.

The project, by researchers at the American University in Washington DC, shows how a consumer 3D printer can be used to create a 3D printed structure with an active chemistry. 

What’s especially impressive about this new chemistry is that it could help break down pollutant particles.

Currently, 3D printers are capable of producing items for many functions but right now, this is only when power is applied to them.

How Does the Active 3D Printer Plastic Work?

Hartings,-Matt-300wHowever, this is changing thanks to researchers led by chemistry professor Matthew Hartings who have managed to print a sponge-like matrix that actually manages to eliminate pollutants.

This could have a big impact on mitigating pollution and it’s the first time a commercial 3D printer has been used to create an object that has active chemistry.

To help understand how the technology works, the American University researchers created a design for a small structure using a 3D thermoplastic printer.

A standard ABS plastic filament was used but nanoparticles of chemically active titanium dioxide (TiO2) were added throughout it. This was then printed into what appears to be a matrix structure.

What’s special about TiO2 is that it is known for its ability to break down pollutants when reacting with natural light so the TiO2/ABS mixture was extruded and hardened to form a filament.

From here, it was loaded into a regular printer. The completed structure was placed into a water sample which contained an organic pollutant.

Impressively enough, once it reacted with the ambient light, it neutralized the pollutant instantly. Thanks to this, Hartings and his team are working on creating more complex shapes for the matrix.

However, there is one major set back in that to be most chemically effective the structure would need a higher concentration than 10%.

If you want to know more, please check out the paper on the research which was recently published in the journal  Science and Technology of Advanced Materials.