High school and middle school age students from around the world, along with educators and U.S Army Research Laboratory personnel, recently gathered at the Homewood campus for a half-day crash course in 3-D printing and other emerging technologies used by researchers at Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute.
During the Joint Science and Technology Institute‘s workshop, researchers from The Kang Group for Bioinspired Materials and Mechanical Systems gave presentations and lab demonstrations. The group, led by Sung Hoon Kang, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is working to develop next-generation materials and mechanical systems inspired by nature. In particular, the group studies how to control a material’s structure and properties at the nano/micro/macro level. For example, one project involves making flexible and stretchable materials that can generate electrical energy from environment such as wind, water flow, and motions from a body. Such materials can be used in many areas from self-powered devices and wearable sensors to aerospace, naval and automotive parts, and medical implants.
Lauren Kirschner, a 16-year old from Seoul American High School in South Korea, was most excited to learn about the diverse applications of 3-D printing. Because 3-D printing can involve a variety of materials – metal, ceramics, polymers, and even gel and liquids– the possibilities are nearly endless.
“I’m working on a 3-D printing project at JSTI, but we only work with hard plastic materials. Seeing that HEMI researchers can even 3-D print more flexible materials like gel was really cool and different. Now I understand how they can 3-D print things like organs,” said Kirschner.