It allows the editing of objects after they have been printed, albeit, in an atmosphere free of oxygen.
Typically once you have 3D printed an object, there is not much you can do in terms of alterations of its properties. However, it turns out, things aren’t really carved in stone, or plastic in this case.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a method which lets you mess with and modify polymers after they have been 3D printed.
The key to their findings, is to create so called ‘living’ accordion-like polymers which can be stretched when exposed to blue LEDs, in thus allows you to alter their properties. This method allows the fusion, softening, and even altering their respective water resistant properties of the objects.
Interestingly, with just the right amount of monomer, by applying temperature to the object, it can be made to shrink or swell.
Naturally, this rather neat trick has a catch to it – you will need an environment that is free of oxygen, not exactly your typical home environment where you tend to 3D print.
MIT’s scientists will now test other catalysts to check whether they can produce the same results with oxygen around in the environment.
As and when that happens, just as you can edit a photo, 3D printed objects in the near future could also inherit these capabilities, allowing you to subtract, add, modify your work without having to reprint a whole new model.