On Printed Wings
Nature serves as a beautiful point of inspiration for materials design. The monarch butterfly, a frequent visitor to Santa Barbara, was chosen to showcase new capabilities in 3D printing developed at UCSB. This butterfly was formed in a single step with wavelength-selective properties (stiff/soft). The technique used to print this material is called Solution Mask Liquid Lithography (SMaLL). SMaLL takes advantage of visible light photochemistries with overlapping wavelengths to rapidly print materials. Through tuning catalyst, dye, and monomer composition, multiple materials systems can be selectively printed simultaneously through exposure to blue or green light. When these colors are combined in a template, such as the monarch butterfly, the property mismatch can be used to create highly engineered properties, like highly stretchable joints or brick-and-mortar structures.