xPrint: A Modularized Liquid Printer for Smart Materials Deposition

Guanyun Wang, Lining Yao, Wen Wang, Jifei Ou, Chin-Yi Cheng, Hiroshi Ishii


To meet the increasing requirements of HCI researchers who are looking into using liquid-based materials (e.g., hydrogels) to create novel interfaces, we present a design strategy for HCI researchers to build and customize a liquid-based smart material printing platform with off-theshelf or easy-to-machine parts. For the hardware, we suggest a magnetic assembly–based modular design. These modularized parts can be easily and precisely reconfigured with off-the-shelf or easy-to-machine parts that can meet different processing requirements such as mechanical mixing, chemical reaction, light activation, and solution vaporization. In addition, xPrint supports an open-source, highly customizable software design and simulation platform, which is applicable for simulating and facilitating smart material constructions. Furthermore, compared to inkjet or pneumatic syringe–based printing systems, xPrint has a large range of printable materials from synthesized polymers to natural micro-organism-living cells with a printing resolution from 10µm up to 5mm (droplet size). In this paper, we will introduce the system design in detail and three use cases to demonstrate the material variability and the customizability for users with different demands (e.g., designers, scientific researchers, or artists).

Related Content