Programmable Filament Gives Even Simple 3D Printers Multi-Material Capabilities

On the additive manufacturing spectrum, the majority of 3D printers are relatively simple, providing hobbyists with a way of conjuring arbitrary 3D objects out of long spools of polymer filament. If you want to make objects out of more than just that kind of filament, things start to get much more complicated, because you need a way of combining multiple different materials onto the print bed. There are a bunch of ways of doing this, but it’s not cheap, so most people without access to a corporate or research budget are stuck 3D printing with one kind of filament at a time.

At the ACM UIST Conference last week, researchers presented a paper that offers a way of giving even the simplest 3D printer the ability to print in as many materials as you need (or have the patience for) through a sort of printception—by first printing a filament out of different materials and then using that filament to print the multi-material object that you want.

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