AI News, Modified, 3D-printable alloy shows promise for flexible electronics, soft robots

Modified, 3D-printable alloy shows promise for flexible electronics, soft robots

The advance by a team within the college's Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute paves the way toward the 3D printing of tall, complicated structures with a highly conductive gallium alloy.

'The runny alloy was impossible to layer into tall structures,' said Yiğit Mengüç, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and co-corresponding author on the study.

the alloys have low toxicity and good conductivity, plus they're inexpensive and 'self-healing' -- able to attach back together at break points.

But prior to the modification developed at OSU, which used sonication -- the energy of sound -- to mix the nickel particles and the oxidized gallium into the liquid metal, the alloys' printability was restricted to 2-dimensional.

'The structural change is permanent, the electrical properties of the paste are comparable to pure liquid metal, and the paste retains self-healing characteristics.'

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– Researchers in Oregon State University’s College of Engineering have taken a key step toward the rapid manufacture of flexible computer screens and other stretchable electronic devices, including soft robots.

But prior to the modification developed at OSU, which used sonication – the energy of sound – to mix the nickel particles and the oxidized gallium into the liquid metal, the alloys’ printability was restricted to 2-dimensional.

“It’s easy to imagine making soft robots that are ready for operation, that will just walk out of the printer.” The gallium alloy paste demonstrates several features new to the field of flexible electronics, added co-corresponding author Uranbileg Daalkhaijav, Ph.D.

“The structural change is permanent, the electrical properties of the paste are comparable to pure liquid metal, and the paste retains self-healing characteristics.” Future work will explore the exact structure of the paste, how the nickel particles are stabilized, and how the structure changes as the paste ages.

3D Printable Gallium Alloys Could Lead the Way for Flexible Electronics

Oregon State University’s College of Engineering researchers have made progress in the ability to rapidly manufacture flexible electronics and soft robotics.

The researchers, from the college’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute, are getting closer to being able to 3D print stretchable electronic devices, soft robots, and flexible computer screens.

We demonstrated the potential of our discovery by 3D printing a very stretchy two-layered circuit whose layers weave in and out of each other without touching,” Yiğit Mengüç, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and co-corresponding author on the study.

However, before the researchers used sonication to mix nickel particles and the oxidized gallium to create a paste, printing was restricted to 2D.

“Liquid metal printing is integral to the flexible electronics field… Additive manufacturing enables fast fabrication of intricate designs and circuitry,” said co-author Doğan Yirmibeşoğlu, a robotics Ph.D.

Engineers develop gallium alloy paste to 3D print soft robotics

With this development, the team is moving towards being able to rapidly manufacture flexible computer screens and other stretchable electronic devices, including soft robots.

In order to do this, researchers put nickel nanoparticles into the liquid metal, galinstan, to thicken it into a paste with a consistency suitable for additive manufacturing.

The team used sonication — the energy of sound — to mix the nickel particles and the oxidized gallium into the liquid metal.

Yirmibeşoğlu believes the future is very bright and this discovery makes it easy to imagine developing soft robots that are ready for operation, that will just walk out of the printer.

“The structural change is permanent, the electrical properties of the paste are comparable to pure liquid metal, and the paste retains self-healing characteristics.”

3D printing metal alloys for flexible electronics

By mixing nickel nanoparticles into the liquid metal using the energy of sound – known as sonification – researchers at Oregon State University changed the gallium alloy into a paste which can be printed layer by layer to make a 3D structure.

We demonstrated the potential of our discovery by 3D printing a very stretchy two-layered circuit whose layers weave in and out of each other without touching.” The paste retains the high electrical conductivity and stretchability of pure liquid metal while still holding its shape after printing.

“Additive manufacturing enables fast fabrication of intricate designs and circuitry.” Future work will explore the exact structure of the paste in order to understand how the nickel particles are stabilised in the liquid metal and how the structure changes as the paste ages.

Advancing the Field of Flexible Electronics with 3D Printable Liquid Metal Alloy

But in reality, 3D printed liquid metal can be used to develop innovations that are far better for humanity than a nearly indestructible robotic killing machine, such as custom cars and functional electronics.

team of researchers from Oregon State University’s College of Engineering is now using a modified, 3D printable liquid metal to take the next step toward rapid manufacturing of stretchable electronic devices, like flexible computer screens and soft robots.

The researchers used this modification to mix nickel nanoparticles and oxidized gallium into galinstan, a liquid metal alloy previously used to make 3D printed wearable temperature sensors.

Vertical structures are difficult to print with a liquid metal (LM) due to the low viscosity and high surface tension of the gallium alloy, which easily leads to coalescence.

Further, the modification retains the high electrical conductivity (3.9 × 106 ± 9.5 × 105 S m−1) and stretchability (over 350% strain) of pure liquid metal.

The ability to print 3D standing structures using this highly conductive metal paste opens up new opportunities to manufacture more complex stretchable electronics.”

The flexible electronics field covers a wide range of products, such as antennae, biomedical sensors and sensors for torque, bendable displays, electrically conductive textiles, and wearable sensor suits, like the kind used by video game developers.

The OSU team will continue their research in the future by determining how the nickel particles are stabilized, exploring the paste’s structure, and investigating how the structure changes as the paste continues to age.

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