3D printing functional composites & devices

Conference Dates

November 10-14, 2019


The ability to three-dimensionally interweave biological and functional materials into 3D composites could enable the creation of devices possessing unique and compelling geometries, properties, and functionalities. Interfacing active devices with biology in 3D could impact a variety of fields, including regenerative bioelectronics, smart prosthetics, biomedical devices, and human-machine interfaces. Biology, from the molecular scale of DNA and proteins, to the macroscopic scale of tissues and organs, is three-dimensional, soft and stretchable, and temperature sensitive. This renders most biological platforms incompatible with the fabrication and materials processing methods that have been developed and optimized for functional electronics, which are typically planar, rigid and brittle. A number of strategies have been developed to overcome these dichotomies. Our approach is to use extrusion-based multi-material 3D printing, which is an additive manufacturing technology that offers freeform, autonomous fabrication. This approach addresses the dichotomies presented above by (1) using 3D printing and imaging for personalized, multifunctional composite architectures; (2) employing ‘nano-inks’ as an enabling route for introducing diverse functionality; and (3) 3D printing a range of functional inks to enable the interweaving of a diverse palette of materials into devices, from biomedical to electronic. 3D printing is a multiscale platform, allowing for the incorporation of functional nanoscale inks, the printing of microscale features, and ultimately the creation of macroscale devices. This blending of 3D printing, functional composites, and ‘living’ platforms may enable next-generation 3D printed devices, all dispensed from a one-pot printer.

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