UNSW Sydney researchers have successfully merged 3D/4D printing with a chemical process to produce “living” resin, which has huge potential for fields as diverse as recycling and biomedicine.
Repairing and reusing plastics and delivering cancer drugs more effectively are only two of many of the potential applications a new 3D/4D printing technology might have, thanks to the pioneering work of a research collaboration between UNSW Sydney and The University of Auckland.
4D printing is a subset of 3D printing where the printed object can transform its shape in response to certain conditions.
The new controlled polymerisation method, where the researchers used visible light to create an environmentally friendly “living” plastic or polymer, opens a new world of possibilities for the manufacture of advanced solid materials.
Polymers can be synthetic, such as plastic, as well as biological, for example, DNA.
The research built upon the UNSW Sydney Boyer Lab’s 2014 discovery of PET-RAFT polymerisation (Photoinduced Electron/energy Transfer-Reversible Addition Fragmentation Chain Transfer polymerisation), a new way to make controlled polymers using visible light, using the Reversible Addition Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) polymerisation technique discovered by the CSIRO (Graeme Moad, San Thang and Enzo Rizzard).
Such polymers can be reactivated