The capabilities of 3D printing technology are ever expanding. Researchers at the Harvard Wyss institute (specifically the Lewis Lab) and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a method of extruding multiple materials from a single print nozzle. The technology is currently able to output eight different materials at 50 Hertz on a single nozzle.
The big question is, what kind of materials can this technology handle? Based on the research thus far, the extruder has been designed for use with simple plastic and elastomer properties. The Wyss Institutes describes print head as containing several “ink channels” with specific tolerances (i.e. length, printing pressure, etc.) to account for the differences in material properties. “The shape of the nozzle, printing pressure, and ink viscosity are all precisely calculated and tuned to prevent backflow and ink mixing during the printing process…”
Some of the design contributors have built a company around this new technology. Voxel8 based out of Somerville, MA has taken this multimaterial idea and run with it. Spurring some recognition from various companies and universities around the Boston area, Voxel8 has had several groups of investors contribute to its growth. The company’s primary target market is athletics and sporting equipment, but they have expanded into wearable technology for medical research and textiles. They have dubbed the multimaterial nozzle, the ActiveMix® print head.
For more information on Voxel8 and their newly formed company, visit their website here. And for the full article from the Harvard Wyss Institute, follow the link here. For more scholarly publications from the Lewis Lab, follow the link here.