Researchers at NC State Develop Liquid Metal 3D Printing Technology

Researchers at NC State Develop Liquid Metal 3D Printing Technology

It appears as though researchers at NC State have taken 3D printing a whole new level. A team has developed a way to print free-standing 3D structures out of liquid metal--at room temperature.

“It’s difficult to create structures out of liquids, because liquids want to bead up,” said Dr. Michael Dickey, co-author of a paper describing the technology and process. “But we’ve found that a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium reacts to the oxygen in the air at room temperature to form a ‘skin’ that allows the liquid metal structures to retain their shapes.”

3D printing with liquid metal

Here’s a video showing the 3D printing process in action. (We think the bit where they print antennae on a bug is the best part. Especially if you think they look more like antlers than antennae.)



A syringe needle doles out the material in droplets, which forms an oxide “skin” that stabilizes the structures being formed. Alternately, the syringe can produce a steady stream of material that forms a wire; with these two methods, researchers were also able to connect droplets with wires. A third method consists of injecting the liquid metal into a template, and then dissolving the template and leaving the metal shape intact.

3D printing with liquid metal, connecting two LEDs
Connecting two LEDs

The material is stretchable, and it conducts electricity; you can see in the video that it’s used to connect two LEDs, although the printing process is sped up in the video by 40-50x.
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Wow that is crazy. Sure would be fun to see this working in person.

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Interesting so far. Now to find other metals that would be more durable and stronger.

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im pretty intrested to see where this discovery may lead us, maybe we can play with some mercury now n make something amazing.......

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i think it is interesting but useless at the same time

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I thought skynet came before the liquid metal...

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Read something similar a few weeks back..cool stuff.

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Wow! Congrats! Now it remains to develop a nano-nozzle and then the trick is done.

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