Kai Parthy, inventor of the original Laywoo-D3 and Laybrick filaments, is back with an exciting new material for desktop filament fabricators. An extension of his foam PORO-LAY line, Kai has developed a sponge filament he calls Layfomm. Though objects printed with Layfomm are pretty ordinary and stiff, upon initial printing, when they’re dipped in water for two to three days, they become soft and flexible.
Kai tells me that his Layfomm 40 Filament demonstrates a unique material property called Viscoelasticity that “is very rare and never seen in 3D-printing”. Viscoelasticity, according to Wikipedia, is capable of both viscous and elastic characteristics when it is reshaped or deformed. On the one hand, viscous materials, like honey, resist stress and strain. Elastic materials, like rubber (or Ninjaflex), on the other hand, strain when stress is applied, but return to their original state once it is removed. Something that’s viscoelastic, like a memory foam pillow, will become misshapen when pressure is applied and, then, slowly return to its original state.
As you can see in the video below, objects can be printed with Layfomm as one would print something ordinarily. After soaking the material in water for two to three days or leaving it exposed to humid air, the object begins to display its viscoelastic properties. The material’s inventor says that the viscoelastic properties can then be controlled by soaking an object in other liquids, like “oils in solutions with alcohols, low concentrations of glycerol, or solutions made up of different salts.” Producing a viscoelastic object could have the following applications, according to Kai:
- storing small amounts of mechanical energy
- to damp vibrations (which means the material is a spring plus a damper in once!)
- shoe insoles
- viscoelastic foams
- artificial soft-tissue
- retardation of mechanical movements (trigg era fast movement and change the movement into a slower motion)
Kai is a 3D printing pioneer and legend. Now there are numerous copycats, but Kai’s Laywoo-D3 was the first alternative material filament to show off just how varied and capable low-cost 3D printing could be. He continues to release new materials to expand the functionality of low-cost machines, so that individual Makers can create complex useful objects independent of large manufacturers. Thanks, Kai! Keep ’em coming!