Typical plastic 3D printing processes turn liquids into solids. Now researchers have invented a way to integrate materials directly into the process to fabricate an object with both solid and liquid elements.

The method, invented by chemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), in Germany, paves the way for applications such as the incorporation of active medical agents in pharmaceutical products or the integration of luminous liquids in materials to provide damage monitoring, researchers said.

However, for 3D printing to evolve, it must integrate more complex methods that combine several production steps. “That is why we were looking for a way to integrate liquids directly into the material during the printing process,” Binder said in a press statement.

To achieve this goal, Binder, working with colleague Professor Harald Rupp—married common 3D printing processes with traditional printing methods, such as those used in inkjet or laser printers. The new method adds liquids drop by drop in a specified location during the extrusion of the basic material, which allows them to be “printed” directly into the product as it’s forming, they said.

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Credit: Elizabeth Montalbano | Design News | 3D Printing Process Creates Objects Made of Both Liquid and Solid Materials