Researchers at the University of Illinois have used 3D printing process to produce multiple colors with a single ink. The model was the structural coloring, as it is known from chameleons and other areas from nature. We present the research work.
Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed an approach to 3D printing multiple colors with a single ink using a modified 3D printing process, the university reports. This resulted in synthetic, structure-based color materials such as those found in the skin of a chameleon and could be used for 3D printing with polymer colors. The reflection of the color resulted from the use of nanoscale structures called photonic crystals.
Study leader Ying Diao, professor of chemical engineering and biomolecular technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains that it is difficult to reproduce these vivid colors in polymers that are used to produce environmentally friendly colors and highly selective optical filters. Polymer synthesis and its processing have to be carefully controlled to form the thin, ordered layers that produce the structural color.
The researchers explain that the greatest challenge in polymer synthesis is to combine the precision required for nanoscale assembly with the production of the large amounts of material required for the 3D printing process. A modified desktop 3D printer helps optimize the speed of movement of the printing nozzle over a temperature-controlled surface.