Advanced Additive Manufacturing of Structurally-Colored Architectures

Adv Mater. 2023 Nov 1:e2307917. doi: 10.1002/adma.202307917. Online ahead of print.


Direct ink writing (DIW) stands out as a facile additive manufacturing method, minimizing material waste. Nonetheless, developing homogeneous Bingham inks with high yield stress and swift liquid-to-solid transitions for versatile 3D printing remains a challenge. In this study, high-performance Bingham inks are formulated by destabilizing silica particle suspensions in acrylate-based resin. A colloidal network forms in the shear-free state through interparticle attraction, achieved by disrupting the solvation layer of large resin molecules using polar molecules. The network is highly dense, with evenly distributed linkage strength as monodisperse particles undergo gelation at an ultra-high fraction. Crucially, the strength is calibrated to ensure a sufficiently large yield stress, while still allowing the network to reversibly melt under shear flow. The inks immediately undergo a liquid-to-solid transition upon discharge, while maintaining fluidity without nozzle clogging. The dense colloidal networks develop structural colors due to the short-range order. This enables the rapid and sophisticated drawing of structurally-colored 3D structures, relying solely on rheological properties. Moreover, the printed composite structures exhibit high mechanical stability due to the presence of the colloidal network, which expands the range of potential applications.

Keywords: 3D printing; additive manufacturing; colloidal gels; structural colors; yield stress.