|This Buckyball structure was produced by rapid 3D printing in water using semiconductor-metal hybrid nanoparticles (HNPs) as photoinitiators. (From Pawar et al., Nano Lett. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b01870; Copyright 2017 American Chemical Society)
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology have developed a new type of photoinitiator for photopolymerization-based 3D printing in water.1 These novel nanoparticles could allow for the creation of bio-friendly 3D printed structures, further the development of biomedical accessories and drive progress in traditional industries such as plastics.
3D printing structures in water has always been challenging due to a lack of water soluble molecules known as photoinitiators, or the molecules that induce chemical reactions necessary to form solid printed material by light.
Now, Uri Banin and Shlomo Magdassi at the Hebrew University's Institute of Chemistry describe an efficient means of 3D printing in water using semiconductor-metal hybrid nanoparticles (HNPs) as the photoinitiators.
3D printing in water opens opportunities in the biomedical arena for tailored fabrication of medical devices and for printing scaffolds for tissue engineering. For example, the researchers envision personalized fabrication of joint replacements, bone plates, heart valves, artificial tendons and ligaments, and other artificial organ replacements. 3D printing in water also offers an environmentally friendly approach to additive manufacturing, which could replace the current technology of printing in organic based inks.
Unlike regular photoinitiators, the novel hybrid nanoparticles present tunable properties, a wide excitation window in the UV and visible range, high light sensitivity, and function by a unique photocatalytic mechanism that increases printing efficiency while reducing the amount of materials required to create the final product. The whole process can also be used in advanced polymerization modalities, such as two-photon polymerization printers, which produce higher-resolution features.
1. Amol Ashok Pawar et al., Nano Letters (2017); doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b01870