Three-Dimensional Printing in Stimuli-Responsive Yield-Stress Fluid with an Interactive Dual Microstructure
Yield-stress support bath-enabled three-dimensional (3D) printing has been widely used in recent years for diverse applications. However, current yield-stress fluids usually possess single microstructures and still face the challenges of on-demand adding and/or removing support bath materials during printing, constraining their application scope. This study aims to propose a concept of stimuli-responsive yield-stress fluids with an interactive dual microstructure as support bath materials. The microstructure from a yield-stress additive allows the fluids to present switchable states at different stresses, facilitating an embedded 3D printing process. The microstructure from stimuli-responsive polymers enables the fluids to have regulable rheological properties upon external stimuli, making it feasible to perfuse additional yield-stress fluids during printing and easily remove residual fluids after printing. A nanoclay-Pluronic F127 nanocomposite is studied as a thermosensitive yield-stress fluid. The key material properties are characterized to unveil the interactions in the formed dual microstructure and microstructure evolutions at different stresses and temperatures. Core scientific issues, including the filament formation principle, surface roughness control, and thermal effects of the newly added nanocomposite, are comprehensively investigated. Finally, three representative 3D structures, the Hall of Prayer, capsule, and tube with changing diameter, are successfully printed to validate the printing capability of stimuli-responsive yield-stress fluids for fabricating arbitrary architectures.