The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is looking for materials that “revolutionize and engineer our future.”

Researchers at Iowa State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara think they can do just that by fundamentally changing Digital Light Processing – a type of 3D printing that users light rather than heat to quickly cure and harden liquid resin into plastic layers – to enable multi-material printing.

“We want to produce two material properties with the same resin,” said Adarsh Krishnamurthy, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and leader of the project at Iowa State. “That’s revolutionary in terms of materials for 3D printing.”

The researchers are using their expertise in materials chemistry, computational science, machine learning and materials characterization to find resins that, when exposed to different wavelengths of light, will solidify with different properties.

So, with one material, Digital Light Processing 3D printers could create products that are rigid in some places and flexible in others.

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