We are developing a Multi Material 3D printer to print an object with different kind of soft and hard material in a single run. It is expected that the combination of printing soft and hard material will be a new kind of 3D printer. Our main printing material is conductive based soft filament made by our laboratory “Soft and Wet Matter Engineering Laboratory”, other different soft filament and hard plastic filament to create fully functional, multi material objects in a single printing run with greater variety and lower cost than other single material printing. In addition, we are developing a special type of Extruder, by using this we will be able to print both soft and hard material with one printer. This will be a new era of 3D printer. Such kind of 3D printer will possibly be a good STEM tool in medical sector and robotics.
Gels, soft and wet materials, have unique properties such as transparency, biocompatibility, and low friction. In recent years, high strength gel has been developed. Various studies take advantage of these characteristics has proceeded, we research to use high strength gel. High-strength gels are expected to be put to practical use in various situations. For example, gel organ models and gel artificial blood vessels are required at a medical site. Also in the field of robotics, soft materials are drawing attention. To put a high-strength gel into practical use, it is necessary to free-form a gel using a 3D gel printer. We developed a 3D gel Printer "SWIM-ER", has enabled modeling of complex shapes of the gel. However, this is expensive. Therefore not all of the gel researchers and the companies have such a device. “RepRap” is the abbreviation for “Replicating rapidly prototyper”, the open source 3D printer. Most of the RepRap parts are made of a resin, and the 3D digital data of the parts and its firmware are posted on the internet. Therefore, we can easily create another 3D printer by building the parts with a 3D printer and programing the firmware on an inexpensive electronic substrate like the “Arduino”. In this research, we aimed to develop a low-cost 3D gel printer which can be used by anyone.
3D printers are mainly used to make "things" by using synthetic resin as materials, but recently 3D food printers that make "food" such as pizza and chocolate which were developed and became a hot topic. However, these 3D printers are adapted to only one material, which is difficult to shape in various food materials. Therefore, we developed a multimaterial 3D food printer "FP-2400" that can be applied to other food materials.
Many 3D food printers are syringe pump based, but FP-2400 is screw based. This is a very new type of 3D food printer. By adopting the screw type, it became easy to control the material, as well as possible to use several kinds of materials.
So far, we have succeeded in shaping rice flour gel, bean paste, cookie etc. as food printing materials. It is possible to print with other type of food gel materials, as long as we print like this. The bean paste is a traditional Japanese sweet, and sometimes many customers like to take printed food at the exhibition. Eating 3D-shaped foods are sometimes fun, and it is becoming popular around the world.
In the future, our aim to be able to design not only shape but also will think about nutrition, taste and texture with 3D food printer. We believe that this technology can be applied to nursing care and hospital foods that require special attention and we can prepare meals tailored as their needs.
Gels are soft and wet materials having low friction, good biocompatibility, and material permeability. It is expected that gel materials will be used as new kinds of industrial materials in the engineering and medical applications. But it cannot build a complicated shape. Soft & Wet Matter Engineering Laboratory developed a 3D gel Printer "SWIM-ER", has enabled modeling of complex shapes of the gel. However, this is expensive. Therefore not all of the gel researchers and the companies have such a device. To solve this problem, we manufacture a low-cost open-source 3D gel printer "RepRap SWIM-ER" from the RepRap. We made the components required to manufacture the “RepRap SWIM-ER” from the 3D printer and chose a light source. In addition, we produced the P-DN gel for RepRap SWIM-ER and conducted the molding test to confirm whether RepRap SWIM-ER can used it.