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Published on March 11th, 2017 | by Geetika Bhasin

Saarland University researchers develop a 3D printed composite material Hotflex that can adjust and bend 3D printed objects

Once you 3D print an object, its composition is normally static. It cannot be changed or adapted to your requirements. Researchers at Saarland University, Germany, have however developed a composite 3D printed material named Hotflex, which is computer controlled and enables 3D printed objects to be deformed or changed in shape.

Daniel Gröger, a doctoral student at Saarland University, says that, because 3D printed objects cannot be physically altered after printing, they aren’t really adaptable at all. Groger’s point is valid as individual 3D printed objects can’t be changed as a whole. These 3D printed objects can be machined or remade but cannot be completely given a new shape.

Gröger and his team of researchers at Saarland University are working in the direction of altering 3D printed objects to make them both adaptable. Hotflex is a flat composite structure in which the several individual layers can be controlled electronically with an Arduino. When the Arduino activates an inbuilt “heating” layer at the center of the material, the 3D printed object becomes changeable instantly, thereby allowing its maker to make physical changes to it.

As per the Saarland researchers, Hotflex can be used for numerous purposes. From making static 3D printed objects deformable, it can also be used to make touch-responsive surfaces. Gröger and his team have used Hotflex to make a jewelry box that opens with a touch-sensitive lock, an adjustable bracelet, and a computer mouse with an ergonomic thumb rest. While there could be a question over the structural integrity of a 3D printed part that has undergone multiple changes, the Hotflex by the Groger and the Saarland research team is a new innovative way of changing the form of 3D printable materials.


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