Additive manufacturing encompasses different technologies whose common feature is the tool-less production of complex parts and components. The basic principles of most relevant technologies, such as powder bed fusion of polymers, fused deposition modelling and stereolithography, were invented in the early 1990s. After an initial focus on prototyping, the technology is now facing a fast growing interest in both academia and industry for more than a decade. Significant advances in materials and processes rendered additively manufactured parts to state of the art or imminent in many industries.
Polymers have a wide range of application in medicine; examples are sutures and implants, as well as tissue engineering and drug delivery. While their versatility enables tailored properties, their biocompatibility assures safe contact with human tissue. The goal of this special symposium is to bring together recent experience in processing and characterization of biomedical polymers and polymer-based devices favored by modern medicine. It aims at a knowledge exchange between scientists that work in the field, as well as at arousing the interest of the whole polymer processing community.
Polymers at surfaces and interfaces
At the sub-micrometer scale, the physics of polymers changes dramatically, affecting both chain dynamics and collective thermodynamics. Covalently bonded, surface-grown or plasma-deposited/plasma-modified polymers at the surface/interface provide an entropic/electrostatic environment that can affect adhesion, friction, corrosion or biological responses. This symposium aims at providing original connections between fundamental polymer sciences and unexpectedly related areas in polymer processing and application.
The identification of microplastics in environmental samples all over the world has resulted in intense activities by scientists but also in much public attention. The goal of this special symposium is to bring together scientists that work on sources, transport, behavior and effects of micro- and nanoplastics on humans and the environment. It aims at making the whole polymer processing community aware of the potential issues of microplastics and inform about the current state of science.
Physical compliance and conformability are essential requirements to bring future robots to our daily lives, and soft polymers and their composites are key materials that enable these functionalities of soft robots. This symposium will provide an insight on how the area of soft robotics can benefit from advancement of polymers and their functional composite materials, in terms of improving the accurate, adaptable, and safe interactions of robots with humans and environments. We will also discuss how new technologies in the processing of polymers and their functional composites will expedite the commercialization and mass-production of high-performance soft robots.