We’ve seen a 3D printer make objects out of soft materials, and one that uses titanium powder. This 3D printer made by researchers at North Carolina State University is somewhere in between: it uses a liquid metal alloy that is stable at room temperature.
According to the university’s press release, Dr. Michael Dickey, Colin Ladd, Ju-Hee Soand John Muth were able to make freestanding structures out of an alloy of gallium and indium. At room temperature, the alloy reacts with oxygen in the air, forming “a ‘skin’ that allows the liquid metal structures to retain their shapes.” Watch the video below, but I must warn you: it will make you want to play Sims.
According to the researchers, the printer can not only stack metallic beads together as shown in the video; it can also inject the alloy into a polymer template to assume a specific shape. The template can be dissolved to free the printed metal structure. The alloy is also conductive, meaning it can be used to connect electronics. I wonder if the alloy can be used with carbomorph to print complex gadgets.