Research Overview V12


Our research group focuses on the design and synthesis of new polymer-based functional materials with applications in 3D/4D printing. In particular, we employ 3D printing techniques using light such as two-photon 3D laser printing and digital light processing.


Photochemistry in 3D Printing: Light induced reactions are a key element in the development of 3D printing light-based technologies. Fine tuning the photoinitiation as well as the photopolymerization process enables access to high resolution and high speed 3D nanoprinting. See our recent collaborative work with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Two-step absorption instead of two-photon absorption in 3D nanoprinting
V. Hahn, T. Messer, N. M. Bojanowski, E. R. Curticean, I. Wacker, R. R. Schröder, E. Blasco, M. Wegener, Nat. Photon. 202115, 932.


4D (Micro)Printing: Although a considerable amount of progress has been made in the field of 3D printing, most of the techniques employed are limited to the fabrication of static objects. But what about printing materials that change upon exposure to external stimuli? E.g. materials that can change their colour like a chameleon or move towards the sun just like sunflowers do. This is one of the main goals of our research group: the incorporation of “life-like” behaviour to synthetic materials by combining stimuli-responsive polymers and 3D printing technologies at the microscale. This concept is called 4D (micro)printing and the additional dimension refers to the ability of a 3D printed object to change its properties over time. See our recent publications on the topic:

4D Printing at the Microscale
C. A. Spiegel, M. Hippler, A. Münchinger, M. Bastmeyer, C. Barner-Kowollik, M. Wegener, E. Blasco, Adv. Funct. Mater. 202030, 1907615.

4D Printing of Shape Memory Polymers: From Macro to Micro
C. A. Spiegel, M. Hackner, V. P. Bothe, J. P. Spatz, E. Blasco, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2022, 2110580. 


Merging Self-Assembly with 3D Printing: Nature is our best source of inspiration. Natural materials are usually constituted by a limited number of molecular building blocks (e.g., amino acids, carbohydrates), and their exceptional adaptive properties are governed by the underlying hierarchical structure. However, there is a long way to go before we reach the level of precision and functionality of natural systems with the current state-of-the-art materials for 3D printing. The main reason is the lack of control at different length scales, especially at the molecular level, during the printing process. Thus, one of our missions is to fill this gap and design new printable materials that exhibit multiscale structural organization. See our publications on the topic:

Hierarchical ordering in light-triggered additive manufacturing
J. Monti, E. Blasco, Polym. Chem. 202011, 7316



Sustainability in 3D Printing: Last but not least, we do not forget about sustainability. Despite 3D printing being more sustainable than other manufacturing techniques (no necessity of moulds, less waste, etc.), there are still a few issues to be solved. The vast majority of polymers employed are still derived from petrochemicals, contributing negatively to the greenhouse effect and our fossil reserves. In addition, most 3D printed polymer materials are not degradable or even not recyclable. Thus, the development of biobased AND biodegradable printable materials to reach an ideal sustainable, circular polymer economy is a challenging task that our group is currently pursuing. Recently, we have successfully demonstrated the use of biobased inks based on five different vegetable oils, which are very attractive as a feedstock due to their wide availability and low price, for 3D printing at the macroscale. See our latest publications on the topic:

Vegetable Oils as Sustainable Inks for Additive Manufacturing: A Comparative Study
C. Vázquez-Martel, L. Becker, W. Liebig, P. Elsner, E. Blasco, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 202115, 16840


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Letzte Änderung: 13.03.2022
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