Today, the size of items that can be printed on a 3D printer is limited by the size of the 3D printer itself (unless you design complex prefabricated structures). Therefore, when it becomes necessary to print a large object - for example, for the needs of the aerospace industry - the manufacturer is forced to fasten, weld or glue many small parts. Of course, engineers around the world are looking for ways to solve this problem. One of them was developed at the University of San Diego (USA) - its scientists propose to use foam rubber, which can increase in volume 40 times.
An object made from such foam rubber is printed in a conventional 3D printer, and then enlarged in volume to the desired size. According to the developers, this material will be especially useful in areas such as architecture, biomedicine, energy and aerospace. Also, lightweight rubber can be used to create floating devices and structures.
The authors published an article in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, in which they described the process of creating rubber, printing parameters and some mechanical properties. This is not the first attempt at using variable structure materials in 3D printing. But the method is still innovative and has great potential for further development.