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A 3D printing process that uses ultrasonic waves to position reinforcement fibres – JEC Composites

by • January 24, 2016 • No Comments

3D printing techniques have quickly become a few of the many widely utilized tools to quickly create and create new components. This innovation can soon enable a much greater range of things to be 3D printed at home and at affordable.
The study published in Smart Materials and Structures creates and demonstrates a novel method in which ultrasonic waves are utilized to carefully position millions of small reinforcement fibres as part of the 3D printing process. The fibres are created into a microscopic reinforcement framework which gives the material durablity. This microstructure is and so set in place via a focutilized laser beam, which locally cures the epoxy resin and and so prints the object.
Tom Llewellyn-Jones, a PhD student in high end composites who created the process, said: “We have demonstrated which our ultrasonic process can be introduced cheaply to an off-the-shelf 3D printing device, which and so turns it into a composite printing device.”
In the study, a print speed of 20mm/s was completed, which is much like to conventional additive layer techniques. The researchers have now shown the skill to assemble a plane of fibres into a reinforcement framework. The exact orientation of the fibres can be regulated by switching the ultrasonic standing wave pattern mid-print.

To complete this the research team mounted a switchable, focutilized laser module on the carriage of a standard three-axis 3D printing stage, above the new ultrasonic alignment apparatus.
This approach allows for the realisation of hard fibrous architectures inside a 3D printed object. The versatile nature of the ultrasonic manipulation technique in addition empowers a wide-range of particle materials, shapes and sizes to be assembled, major to the creation of a new generation of fibrous reinforced composites which can be 3D printed.
Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: “Our work has shown the initially example of 3D printing with real-time control over the distribution of an internal microstructure and it demonstrates the future to create rapid prototypes with hard microstructural arrangements. This orientation control gives us the skill to create printed parts with tailored material properties, all without compromising the printing.”
Dr Richard Trask, Reader in Multifunctional Materials in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, introduced: “As well as offering reinforcement and improved durablity, our method can be useful for a range of smart materials applications, such as printing resin-filled capsules for self-healing materials or piezoelectric particles for energy harvesting.”
More information: www.bristol.ac.uk

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