A UV-curable epoxy with “soft” segments for 3D-printable shape-memory materials
Three-dimensional (3D)-printable shape-memory polymers (SMPs) are of great interest for making advanced shape-memory materials. However, it has been challenging to combine 3D-printable capability with shape-memory function into one material. Here, we report a UV-curable epoxy with excellent shape-memory performance and improved toughness as compared with traditional epoxy counterpart. The epoxy system is realized by cross-linking epoxy resin diglycidyl ether of bisphenol F (DGEBF) (“hard” segments) with toughening agent 3-ethyl-3-oxetanemethanol (TMPO) (“soft” segments), which finally creates a three-dimensional network with TMPO-co-DGEBF block structures. The fold-deploy tests show that the shape fixity ratio (Rf) and the shape recovery ratio (Rr) of the epoxy with 50 wt% TMPO soft segment are above 97 and 99% even after 20 cycles of testing, respectively. In addition to bringing shape-memory performance, the toughness of the epoxy system is notably improved by the TMPO soft segments. This study provides a very promising epoxy system for 3D-printable shape-memory materials.
The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. U1362205 and Grant No. U156420074) and Jiangsu Province Science and Technology Support Project (No. BE2014146-4).
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