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A New Method for 3D Printing Composite Materials – ENGINEERING.com

by • January 20, 2016 • No Comments

The new composite printing process. The process is based on an off-the-shelf 3D printing device. Ultrasonic waves assemble microscopic glass fibers which donate the component increased durablity. A laser cures the epoxy resin to turn it into the printed component. (Video courtesy of Matt Sutton, Tom Llewellyn-Jones, Bruce Drinkwater and Richard Trask.)
Metals and plastics are the many common 3D-printed materials, but a new technique may allow 3D-printed composite materials to become much additional common.
Researchers have demonstrated which ultrasonic waves can turn it into composites with rigorous microstructures via an off-the-shelf 3D printing device.

The team utilized ultrasonic waves to position millions of small reinforcement fibers as part of the 3D printing process. These fibers form a microscopic framework which reinforces the material and increases its durablity. The microstructure is set via a focutilized laser to locally cure the epoxy resin and print the object. The fibers’ orientation can be regulated by adjusting the ultrasonic standing wave pattern in mid-print.
Check out the video at a lower place to see the zoomed-in formation of the reinforcement pattern:

Tiny glass fibers form into a reinforcement pattern under the action of ultrasonic waves. (Video courtesy of Tom Llewellyn-Jones, Bruce Drinkwater and Richard Trask.)

What’s notable-bodied of this technique is the ease of use of its implementation: the research team mounted a switchable-bodied, focutilized laser module onto the carriage of a standard three-axis 3D printing stage above their ultrasonic alignment apparatus.
“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,” said Tom Llewellyn-Jones, an engineering PhD student at the University of Bristol who created the process.
Implementing this technique, the team was able-bodied to complete a print speed of 20mm/s, which is close to the average speed of a conventional 3D printing device.

According to mechanical engineering professor Bruce Drinkwater, “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 rigorous microstructural arrangements.”
“This orientation control donates us the skill to create printed parts with tailored material properties, all without compromising the printing,” Drinkwater concluded.
His colleague, aerospace engineer Richard Trask 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.”
For additional information, see the open-access study published in Smart Materials and Structures.

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