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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

3D Printing of Liquid Metals at Room Temperature - Videos and info

This looks like it could be very useful, for making DIY Circuit Boards. As well as some neat looking Art. More Videos in the Article Below or in their Site..


3D Printing of Liquid Metals at Room Temperature

Published on Jul 8, 2013

Researchers at NC State have developed a way to print liquid metals into 3D structures at room temperature. The structures are stabilized by a thin oxide 'skin' that forms on the liquid metal. The approaches shown here represent new ways to direct write metals in 3D. In addition, the resulting components can, in principle, self-heal ( "Self-healing stretchable wires" and be ultra-stretchable ( "Ultra-stretchable wires"

The paper, "3D Printing of Free Standing Liquid Metal Microstructures," is published online in Advanced Materials. For more information, visit

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Turning a webcam into a digital macro camera



15$ webcam + objective lens = the camera I took most of the early figure pictures with. It got a whopping 5 microns/pixel which is the same as our $3000 macro setup from edmund optics! The downside was it had a horrible depth of field, no focus, no adjustable zoom, tiny resolution, and had to be manually positioned. Every time the table was bumped, you would have to spend 5 minutes finding the same 5mm spot again.

Glass microneedles

The needles you see in the videos that are fine as human hair can be pulled with a butane lighter with relative ease. Just FYI in case you think I got too fancy, hah.

This is 2 pieces of glass tubing clamped in foam on a ring stand. Just hold the lighter to the center and try not to catch the foam on fire.

Cartoon diagrams of our setups

setup v2

This was our first setup, and it was a complete pain in my ass, but it worked. The syringe “pump” was literally a printer stepper motor, a skateboard bearing, a nylon gear, a screw, a nut pressed inside a laser pointer optics housing and some epoxy (thanks hackaday). I drove the stepper with a controller off e-bay (this was before I knew anything about microcontrollers) and to top it off, a jury-rigged ATX power supply that nearly caught fire when I left it on too long.

setup 2 v3

This was our new setup with (most) the kinks worked out. The pressure you see in the diagram is of the vacuum that held back the metal against hydrostatic pressure. The pulse pressure is 0-80 psi. We are using an off the shelf dispenser designed for solder paste, which is essentially a regulator + aspirator vacuum + millisecond range solenoid valve.

Making flexible devices.

3 4 2


Demonstrating just how flexible these little suckers are. We opted against ecoflex because it wasn’t photogenic, but with that stuff you can get 1000%< strain!


3D Printing of Liquid Metals at Room Temperature

3D printing with liquid metals
Liquid Metals Project | Stuff that never made it into the paper.
Liquid Metals Guy on Vimeo
3D Printing of Free Standing Liquid Metal Microstructures - Ladd - 2013 - Advanced Materials - Wiley Online Library
3D Printing of Liquid Metals at Room Temperature - YouTube
setup-2-v3.jpg (JPEG Image, 800 × 582 pixels)
setup-v2.jpg (JPEG Image, 800 × 582 pixels)
A (literally) small thanks to hackaday for helping me get published. on Vimeo
cockroach on Vimeo
setup.jpg (JPEG Image, 482 × 515 pixels)

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