3D printing is an area of technology that is rapidly developing, with the industry expected to grow by more than 31% per year between now and 2020. And with companies such as HP investing in the technology, it’s starting to become more and more readily available to businesses of all types.
But who would have thought the bucket and spade structured sandcastles we built on the beaches as children would be the inspiration for future 3D printers?
A group of researchers at North Carolina State University has developed a sandcastle-inspired new technique relying on the same structural principles, offering a new method to print silicone paste.
The work involves printing silicon rubber structures by combining water with solid and liquid forms of silicon into pasty ink. Simply put, when printed, the liquid silicon rubber acts as a bridge for the tiny silicon rubber beads, linking them together in the same way water helps sand particles bind in sand castles.
According to the team of researchers, the technique works in both wet and dry environments, meaning it can be even be used for biomedical applications such as live tissue, but could also have uses in soft robotics.
This new technique could even pave the way for direct printing of flexible meshes and soft bandages straight onto a person’s body.
With these continuous developments in the industry, it’s clear that 3D technologies have now progressed to a stage where they are playing a vital role in many industries.