Skip to content

September 7, 2018

Who needs ink cartridges? Harvard’s acoustic printer can spit out honey or cells

by John_A

We’re all about innovative printing methods here at Digital Trends and, boy, have the folks at Harvard not disappointed with their latest piece of research. It involves using sound waves to make it possible to print with virtually any liquid imaginable. That includes everything from human cells and liquid metal to optical resins and even honey. Needless to say, these aren’t the usual water-like printing materials found in ordinary inkjet printers. The results could prove useful in fields including pharmaceutical development, cosmetics, or even the food industry.

“We have developed a new drop-on-demand printing method that is conducive to printing liquids with low to very high viscosity,” Jennifer Lewis, the Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, told Digital Trends. “It’s exciting, because it can be applied to a very broad range of liquids.”

Gravity causes any liquid to drip, and therefore theoretically form droplets which could be used to print with. However, the speed and size of these droplets is difficult to control. For instance, pitch — the name given to some liquids so thick that they appear to be solid — forms just a single drop every decade. The droplet size of many liquids are too large to be printable.

Harvard University

To get around these issues, the Harvard researchers use the pressure of sound waves to assist gravity in a process they call acoustophoretic printing. The team’s subwavelength acoustic resonator prompts more than 100x the normal gravitational forces at the tip of the printer nozzle. This controllable force pulls each droplet off the nozzle when it reaches the perfect size for printing. The higher the amplitude of sound waves, the smaller the droplet size that results.

The sound waves do not cause damage to the materials, making this a safe method to use even for printing with biological materials like living cells or proteins.

“We are currently working on the next-generation acoustophoretic printers that enable smaller droplet sizes and faster build rates,” Lewis continued. “We have filed patents and are interested in commercializing this novel printing method.”

A paper describing the work, titled “Acoustophoretic printing,” was recently published in the journal Science Advances.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Why leaky taps make that ‘plink’ noise — and what we can do about it
  • A new way to ‘freeze’ water could help transform organ preservation
  • These 3D-printed houses could be one-tenth the price of regular homes
  • Want a peek into the future? Watch these robots 3D print concrete structures
  • Shot to the heart: Device carries drugs directly to injured internal organ



Advertisements
Read more from News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: