A research team at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has achieved a groundbreaking advancement in materials research by successfully developing the world’s first 4-D printing for ceramics, which are mechanically robust and can have complex shapes. This could turn a new page in the structural application of ceramics.
Ceramic has a high melting point, so it is difficult to use conventional laser printing to make ceramics. The existing 3-D-printed ceramic precursors, which are usually difficult to deform, also hinder the production of ceramics with complex shapes. To overcome these challenges, the CityU team has developed a novel “ceramic ink,” which is a mixture of polymers and ceramic nanoparticles. The 3-D-printed ceramic precursors printed with this novel ink are soft and can be stretched three times beyond their initial length. These flexible and stretchable ceramic precursors allow complex shapes, such as origami folding. With proper heat treatment, ceramics with complex shapes can be made.