"Morphing Nozzle" Aligns Fibers and Results in Stronger Prints

Much of additive manufacturing research is focused on strengthening 3D prints and leaving any and all descriptions of “flimsy” behind. Historically, when comparing the strength of 3D printed objects to ones manufactured with other processes, the 3D printed part looses that contest almost every time. This is because of the fact that 3D printed parts are created with the layering of material, as opposed to being an integrated solid.

Until now, attempts at making filament stronger could be considered fails because they just weren’t consistent. Those attempts almost always involved mixing “stronger” material into the standard polymer. The issue with this method is that there isn’t really a way to ensure that the same amount of those stronger fibers will extrude consistently. Therefore you couldn’t really rely on it.

Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a “morphing nozzle” that actually aligns the 3D printed fibers. This has presented to be a far more realistic and successful approach that ensures more reliable and consistent results.

“‘Specifically, the nozzle comprises flexible bladders that can be inflated pneumatically to alter the geometry of the material extrusion channel from a straight to a converging–diverging configuration, and in turn, the directional orientation of fibers within printed filaments.’ Basically they are squeezing the material flow to force the fibers to rotate into the desired alignment, just before extrusion. It’s an amazing idea.”

“If you were to orient the fibers to be parallel to the extrusion flow, that would be quite an achievement. However, it also means that the strength of the part would lie along the extrusion lines. These extrusions necessarily move about the 3D model in a path generated to produce the desired shape, which is not necessarily meeting the mechanical stress requirements.”

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Categories: Design & Process