New Shape-Changing Nozzle That Could Revolutionize “4D Printing”

3D Printing Morphing Nozzle

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The changing nozzle in action, 3D printing fiber-filled composite products with on-demand control of fiber positioning for “4D printing. Credit: University of Maryland

Engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have actually produced a brand-new shape-changing or “morphing” 3D printing nozzle that was included as a Frontispiece in the January fifth problem of the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.

The group’s changing nozzle deals scientists brand-new ways for 3D printing “fiber-filled composites” — products comprised of brief fibers that enhance unique homes over conventional 3D-printed parts, such as improving part strength or electrical conductivity. The difficulty is that these homes are based upon the instructions or “orientations” of the brief fibers, which has actually been hard to manage throughout the 3D printing procedure, previously.

“When 3D printing with the morphing nozzle, the power lies on their side actuators, which can be inflated like a balloon to change the shape of the nozzle, and in turn, the orientations of the fibers,” stated Ryan Sochol, an assistant teacher in mechanical engineering and director of the Bioinspired Advanced Manufacturing (BAM) Laboratory at UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

To show their brand-new technique, the scientists set their sights on emerging “4D printing” applications. “4D printing refers to the relatively new concept of 3D printing objects that can reshape or transform depending on their environment,” stated UMD mechanical engineering teacher David Bigio, a co-author of the research study. “In our work, we looked at how printed parts swelled when submerged in water, and specifically, if we could alter that swelling behavior using our morphing nozzle.”

Recent advances in 4D printing count on products efficient in both “anisotropic” growth, swelling more in one instructions than another, in addition to “isotropic” growth, swelling identically in all instructions. Unfortunately, changing in between these conditions has actually usually needed scientists to print with numerous, various products.

“What was exciting was discovering that we could cause a single printed material to transition between anisotropic and isotropic swelling just by changing the nozzle’s shape during the 3D printing process,” stated Connor Armstrong, lead author of the research study. Armstrong established the technique as part of his MS thesis research study at UMD.

“Importantly, the nozzle’s ability to morph and to even up the score in terms of swelling properties is not limited to 4D printing,” stated research study co-author and just recently finished mechanical engineering undergraduate trainee Noah Todd. “Our approach could be applied for 3D printing many other composite materials to customize their elastic, thermal, magnetic or electrical properties for example.”

Interestingly, to develop the changing nozzle itself, the group really relied on a various 3D printing innovation called “PolyJet Printing.” This multi-material inkjet-based technique provided by UMD’s Terrapin Works 3D Printing Hub permitted the scientists to 3D print their nozzle with versatile products for the inflatable side actuators and the shape-changing main channel, however then stiff products for the external case and the gain access to ports.

“The use of multi-material PolyJet 3D printing enabled us to design the nozzle with an operating power range or set of pressure magnitudes that can be reproduced in essentially any research laboratory,” stated research study co-author and mechanical engineering PhD prospect Abdullah Alsharhan.

In one application of this brand-new technique, the group is checking out making use of their method to understand biomedical applications in which bulk printed items might improve in the existence of specific stimuli from the body. The group is likewise in conversations with numerous DoD labs to utilize the changing nozzle to support the production of weapons for defense and other military systems.

“By providing researchers with an accessible way to 3D print fiber-filled composite materials with on-demand control of their fiber orientations, and thus, their ultimate performance,” Sochol stated, “this work opens the door for new applications of 3D printing that harness these unique material properties and the distinctive capabilities they enable.”

Reference: “Morphing‐Nozzle 3D Printing: A 3D Printed Morphing Nozzle to Control Fiber Orientation during Composite Additive Manufacturing” by Connor D. Armstrong, Noah Todd, Abdullah T. Alsharhan, David I. Bigio and Ryan D. Sochol, 5 January 2021, Advanced Materials Technologies.
DOI: 10.1002/admt.202170004

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