Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new method of 3-D-printing gels and other soft materials. Published in a new paper, it has the potential to create complex structures with nanometer-scale precision. Because many gels are compatible with living cells, the new method could jump-start the production of soft tiny medical devices such as drug delivery systems or flexible electrodes that can be inserted into the human body.
A standard 3-D printer makes solid structures by creating sheets of material—typically plastic or rubber—and building them up layer by layer, like a lasagna, until the entire object is created.
Using a 3-D printer to fabricate an object