MASSACHUSETTS – Scientists at MIT have developed technology which they claim could be the first step towards printable robots. The prototype 3D printed device which folds itself up immediately once peeled from the printing platform can be stimulated by both heat and immersion in water to create a variety of three-dimensional structures. Researchers claim the self-fold mechanism enables the device to successfully interact with a wider range of textiles and delicate materials.
The researchers’ design centres on a new printer-ink material that expands after it solidifies. Advancements in 3D printer ink for the wearable technologies sector have yielded several recent successes, including the Wyss Institute’s work on ‘stretchable, conductive inks’ for use in wearable technology ranges. Most 3D printer-ink materials contract slightly as they solidify, a limitation which now seems to have been removed from the design process.