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Faculty of Engineering

New manufacturing with high-strength gels and 3D gel printers

Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Polymer Chemistry, and Soft Matter

Hidemitsu Furukawa

High-strength gel that can be bent freely.

Toward new manufacturing with new materials and new devices

My research group is working to realize new manufacturing by using a new gel and new 3D gel printers. Gel is a soft material which contains a large amount of moisture and has intermediate properties of solids and liquids. My desire to find a way in which gel material can benefit society led me to develop the world's first 3D gel printer. Normally, 3D printers output hard resin. However, 3D gel printers are capable of outputting the soft materials of high-strength gels.

World's first 3D gel printer offers a variety of uses such as making artificial blood vessels and gear teeth.

Advancements in research and application

3D gel printers now make it possible to directly output complex gel shapes such as robot fingers, human blood vessels, and gear teeth. The printed objects possess a function similar to soft biological tissue and have little effect on the human body. Based on these properties, we are conducting research for broad utilization in industries such as medical care, beauty, and food products.

Artificial fingers created from high-strength gel have little effect on the human body and are expected to contribute to medical industry.

Promoting technology for the invigoration of manufacturing

We are engaging in joint research with domestic/overseas universities and corporations in order to find beneficial uses for new manufacturing technology. We also hold activities for conveying technology to city residents in an easy-to-understand manner. On the second floor of JR Yonezawa Station, we have established "EkiFab (station fabrication center)" where equipment such as 3D printers is available for use. Through these initiatives, I hope to create new industry which will invigorate the manufacturing industry.