Direct-writing of fiber networks for 3D printing soft composites

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Authors
Spackman, Clayson
Issue Date
2016-12
Type
Electronic thesis
Thesis
Language
ENG
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Mechanical engineering
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Abstract
Fiber-reinforced soft composites (FrSCs) are an emerging class of composites that are made up of polymeric fibers with specific material properties and hierarchical length-scales, embedded within another soft-polymer matrix. The research presented in this thesis studies the fundamental manufacturing issues associated with direct-writing of fibrous networks for 3D printing soft composites. First, a novel 3D printing platform is presented for fabricating FrSC structures with characteristic length-scales in the tens of millimeters range. This platform combines the conventional inkjet-based printing of ultraviolet (UV) curable polymers with the deposition of either aligned or random fiber mats, in between each printed layer. The fiber mats used for 3D printing are generated using two complementary techniques, viz., (i) a far-field electrospinning process that produces rolls of fiber mats en mass, and (ii) a near-field electrospinning-based “direct-write” system that produces both highly aligned as well as random nylon fiber mat coupons. During the 3D printing process, a stamping operation is used to transfer the electrospun fibers onto the polymer layer being printed. The printing process has been proven to manufacture multi-material FrSCs having different 3D geometries. The dimen-sional accuracy of the parts is seen to be a function of the interaction between the different UV-curable polymer inks.
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December 2016
School of Engineering
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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