Shape Memory Polymers for Additive Manufacturing

© Fraunhofer IAP

The aim of the project was to commission an extrusion line specially designed to convert thermoplastic polyurethanes with shape memory properties from the melt into filaments. The filaments were then processed into a series of functional demonstrators using the additive manufacturing technique of fused filament fabrication. Quick response (QR) codes were converted into a machine-unreadable state through thermomechanical treatment. Heating above the switching temperature of the polymer then led to shape recovery and thus to the restoration of machine readability. This makes the technology attractive for applications such as product protection and the monitoring of deep-freeze chains. In another example, programmable pieces of jewelry were developed and their shape memory properties investigated. 


SMP Tagnologies: The image shows a machine-readable quick response (QR) code produced via fused filament fabrication (FFF) and its counterpart after programming, characterized by an unreadable code. The latter can be switched back to the machine-readable shape by heating. The technology can be used to monitor cold chains and as proof of authenticity in anti-counterfeiting applications. 

© Fraunhofer IAP

Smart earrings: The use of shape memory polymers makes it possible to design pieces of jewelry according to the wearer's wishes. For example, earrings can be transformed into a new shape if required, which they retain until the shape memory effect is triggered. The earring can then be programmed into a different shape. Left picture: earring in permanent shape; right picture: earring in programmed shape.



D. Chalissery, T. Pretsch, S. Staub, H. Andrä, Polymers 2019, 11, art. no. 1005.



Fraunhofer IAP, Dr. Thorsten Pretsch,, 0331 568 1414