Dec 7, 2017 | By David

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. This is part of major European project, being led by researchers from the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Alicante, and the technology company Applynano Solutions.

Known as the MASTRO project, (Intelligent bulk MAterials for Smart TRanspOrt industries), 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 first meeting of the project with all the partners is scheduled for January 17 and 18, at the headquarters of Acciona Construccion, which is located in Alcobendas (Madrid).

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. They will be created from polymeric, concrete, and carbon nanomaterials, with smart features based on three different physical phenomena: the variation of electric resistivity 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.

Applyano Solutions will be mostly looking at the development of nano-materials for the production of industrial prototypes. The company, which was formed by researchers from the UA’s Department of Chemical Engineering in 2015, has a speciality in this field. It already offers an impressive line of industrial solutions that are improved with the incorporation of nano-materials. These  high quality graphenes and other derivatives are used in many different industries, including aeronautics and naval, automotive, and sports equipment. They are also ideal for batteries and other kinds of energy storage. 3D printing technology can apply these materials to a broad range of pioneering techniques and applications, and the company’s participation in this new global multi-disciplinary project should see the 3D printing world benefit even further in the upcoming years.

The project is being funded as part of Horitzo 2020, which is the largest system for financing R & D & I at European level. The MASTRO project is due to run until sometime in 2021.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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