3D-printed mechanochromic materials

Gregory I. Peterson, Michael B. Larsen, Mark A. Ganter, Duane W. Storti, Andrew J. Boydston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

223 Scopus citations


We describe the preparation and characterization of photo- and mechanochromic 3D-printed structures using a commercial fused filament fabrication printer. Three spiropyran-containing poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) polymers were each filamentized and used to print single- and multicomponent tensile testing specimens that would be difficult, if not impossible, to prepare using traditional manufacturing techniques. It was determined that the filament production and printing process did not degrade the spiropyran units or polymer chains and that the mechanical properties of the specimens prepared with the custom filament were in good agreement with those from commercial PCL filament. In addition to printing photochromic and dual photo- and mechanochromic PCL materials, we also prepare PCL containing a spiropyran unit that is selectively activated by mechanical impetus. Multicomponent specimens containing two different responsive spiropyrans enabled selective activation of different regions within the specimen depending on the stimulus applied to the material. By taking advantage of the unique capabilities of 3D printing, we also demonstrate rapid modification of a prototype force sensor that enables the assessment of peak load by simple visual assessment of mechanochromism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-583
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Chemical Society.


  • additive manufacturing
  • mechanochemistry
  • polymers
  • responsive materials


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