A new way to paint 3D-printed objects
Conventional sprays and brushes can’t reach all nooks and crannies in complex 3D-printed objects, but the new technique coats any exposed surface and fosters rapid prototyping. The engineers discovered new capabilities of a technology that creates a fine spray of droplets by applying a voltage to fluid flowing through a nozzle. This technique (electrospray deposition) has been used mainly for analytical chemistry. But in recent decades, it has also been used in lab-scale demonstrations of coatings that deliver vaccines, light-absorbing layers of solar cells and fluorescent quantum dots (tiny particles) for LED displays. Using their approach, Rutgers engineers are building an accessory for 3D printers that will, for the first time, allow automated coating of 3D-printed parts with functional, protective or aesthetic layers of paint. Their technique features much thinner and better-targeted paint application, using significantly fewer materials than traditional methods. That means engineers can use cutting-edge materials, such as nanoparticles and bioactive ingredients, that would otherwise be too costly in paints.
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