Scientists 3D printed smart hydrogels that can walk underwater and move objects

New Brunswick engineers at Rutgers University have created a 3D printed smart gel that can walk underwater, grab objects and move them. Aqueous 3D printed smart gels can cause soft robots to mimic marine animals like octopuses that can walk underwater and hit things without damaging them. It can also be used to make artificial hearts, stomach and other muscles, as well as equipment for diagnosing diseases, detecting and delivering drugs, and performing underwater inspections. Soft materials such as smart gels are flexible, generally cheaper than making hard materials, and can be miniaturized. Devices made of soft materials are generally easier to design and control than mechanically more complex hardware devices.

The 3D printed smart gel has great potential in the field of biomedical engineering because it is similar to the very soft tissue that is also abundant in the human body. It can also be used in many different types of underwater equipment like octopus. During 3D printing, light is projected onto the photosensitive solution and becomes a gel. The hydrogel is placed in a saline solution (or electrolyte) and two thin wires are used to trigger the movement: move forward, Reverse the route, grab and move objects. The team-created human-like walker is about 1 inch tall. In humans, diapers, contact lenses, and many other items, hydrogels with more than 70% water content remain solid. The 3D printed hydrogel created by the researcher moves and changes shape when electrically activated.

The speed of the smart gel movement is controlled by changing its size, and the gel bends according to the strength of the saline solution and the electric field or Change shape. Gel is similar to contracted muscle because it is made of soft material, water content exceeds 70%, and responds to electrical stimulation. China 3D Printing Network Comments: This study shows our How 3D printing technology extends the design, size and versatility of this smart gel, and micro 3D printing technology allows us to create an unprecedented way of gel movement. Published online.