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Purdue researchers use ultrasonic vibrations to improve 3D printing with viscous materials

Dec 7, 2018 | By Cameron

Purdue researchers use ultrasonic vibrations to improve 3D printing with viscous materials

There’s been a growing interest in 3D printing with clay-like materials for a number of reasons, including but not limited to a more pleasing aesthetic, better mechanical and insulative properties, and even energy storage. But the major technical challenge of 3D printing many of these materials is their viscosity; a thick paste is difficult to extrude through a narrow nozzle because, due to friction, the material builds up on the inner walls and eventually clogs the nozzle. Even when a viscous material can be extruded, it’s often an inconsistent stream that results in voids and pockets of air. A novel solution devised by a team of Purdue University researchers involves applying high-amplitude ultrasonic vibrations to the nozzle, reducing the friction and thus allowing the material to flow smoothly.

Purdue researchers use ultrasonic vibrations to improve 3D printing with viscous materials

The team was led by Jeffrey Rhoads, a professor in Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering, and Emre Gunduz, a former research assistant professor at Purdue; together, they launched a faculty-owned startup called Next Offset Solutions Inc. that makes specialized 3D printers and materials. They patented their discovery through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization and plan to market it to various government agencies.

Their ultrasonic extrusion method can be performed remotely and doesn’t require the dangerous solvents that are usually added to viscous materials to shape them, making their method much cheaper and safer. “Some of these processes literally use a ton of solvents that we don’t need,” Rhoads said. “You don't have to have a person there interfacing with the system. That's a big advantage from the safety standpoint.”

Monique McClain, a doctoral candidate in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has experience working with energetic materials and tested the method on a solid fuel cell, much like what’s used for rocket propellant. Her findings revealed that the 3D printed version compared favorably with the conventional fuel cell, burning evenly and predictably. The complex geometries that can be achieved with 3D printing could allow for more-precisely activated propellants; changing the shape and structure of a fuel cell affects the way it burns, so engineers could design fuel cells that burn more quickly in the center for improved thrust.

The Next Offset Solutions technique also helps evolve the slow-to-change industries that contract with the Departments of Energy and Defense, where a lot of time and money is required to approve new materials. By working with materials that are already qualified, they can focus on providing tailored solutions. 3D printed fuel cells offer a level of customization that could dramatically change how rockets and missiles are manufactured, so get ready for rocket-powered backpacks.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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Read more http://www.3ders.org/articles/20181207-purdue-researchers-use-ultrasonic-vibrations-to-improve-3d-printing-with-viscous-materials.html