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Spanish university leads MASTRO research project to develop innovative 'smart' materials for 3D printing

Spanish university leads MASTRO research project to develop innovative 'smart' materials for 3D printing


Spain’s contributions to 3D printing technology have been significant over the years, particularly with the strong hobbyist / maker scene that exists in the Catalonia region. Another recent development, this time more focused on the industrial 3D printing sector, will see a range of new innovative materials for 3D printing and other applications being developed. company Applynano Solutions.

3d printer

Known as the MASTRO project, the goal of this new project will be to develop so-called intelligent materials, for use in a variety of industries. The transport sector will be seeing most of the benefits of these new materials, in particular aerospace, automotive and public transport infrastructures. Other participants in the project include companies and institutions from countries all across Europe, such as United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany and Sweden. 

The intelligent materials that are being developed should allow for a huge range of new properties to be integrated into manufacturing projects, offering all kinds of advantages over more conventional material choices. They will allow companies building with them to monitor their own deformation, as well as being able to heat and defrost surfaces according to requirements. In addition to this, they will also boast self-protective properties, allowing them to protect themselves from damage. This will be better for users’ safety, as well as their own durability and performance for various manufacturing tasks. The costs of maintenance will accordingly be reduced with the help of the integrated smart monitoring features, and also greenhouse gas emissions should be significantly less.

For the development of these materials, a number of different matrices will be used. with smart features based on three different physical phenomena: the variation of electric of a material when mechanical voltage is applied; the relation between the heat generated in a conductor and the flow of electrical current; and electrostatic dissipation to protect a material from electric discharges.

The Department of Civil Engineering at the UA will be specifically focused on the development of ways that the materials can monitor the deformation and damage to the reinforced concrete structures they are part of. They will also be developing a heating function, in order to warm up asphalt or concrete pavements in cold weather. One particularly crucial application of this could be the prevention of ice formation on airport runways, in countries with very cold climates.

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