A new nozzle to change the shape that can revolutionize “4D printing”

Morphing nozzle running, composite materials filled with fiber for 3D printing, with fiber alignment control for “4D printing. Credit: University of Maryland

Engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have created a new nozzle for changing shape or “morphing” 3D printing, which appeared as the magazine’s January 5 frontispiece. Advanced Material Technologies.

The group’s morphing nozzle researchers offer new means for obtaining “fiber-filled composites” for 3D printing – materials made of short fibers that enhance the special properties of traditional 3D printed parts, such as improving the strength or electrical conductivity of the part. The challenge is that these properties are based on the directions or “orientations” of the short fibers, which has been difficult to control so far in the 3D printing process.

“In 3D printing with a morphing nozzle, the power is in the side actuators, which can be inflated like a balloon to change the shape of the nozzle and at the same time the fiber orientations,” said Ryan Sochol, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and UMD A. James Clark School of Bioinspired Advanced Manufacturing (BAM ) Laboratory Director.

To demonstrate the new approach, the researchers focused on new “4D printing” applications. “4D printing refers to a relatively new concept of 3D printing objects that can be redesigned or transformed by the environment,” said David Bigio, a professor of mechanical engineering at UMD, the author of the research. “In our work, we looked at how printed pieces were inflated when immersed in water, and specifically using our morphing nozzle to change this inflammatory behavior.”

The latest advances in 4D printing are based on materials capable of “anisotropic” expansion, swelling more than one in one direction, as well as “isotropic” expansion, swelling evenly in all directions. Unfortunately, switching between these conditions usually requires researchers to print with multiple and different materials.

“It was exciting to discover that a single printed material could cause a transition between anisotropic and isotropic inflammation, only by changing the nozzle shape in the 3D printing process,” said Connor Armstrong, author of the study. Armstrong developed the approach as part of his research on his MS thesis at UMD.

“It is important to note that nozzle enhancing ability to equalize and equalize the score is not limited to 4D printing,” said the study’s author and recently graduated student of Mechanical Engineering Noah Todd. “Our approach could be applied to many other composite materials for 3D printing, such as customizing their elastic, thermal, magnetic, or electrical properties.”

Interestingly, to build the same morphing nozzle, the team switched to another 3D printing technology called “PolyJet Printing”. This multi-material ink-based approach provided by UMD’s Terrapin Works 3D Printing Hub allows researchers to print their nozzle 3D with inflatable sides and flexible materials for the central channel that changes shape, but then for the outer casing and rigid materials. ports of entry.

“The use of multi-material PolyJet 3D printing has allowed us to design a nozzle with a range of operating power or a set of pressure magnitudes that can be reproduced in essentially any research laboratory,” said research author and PhD in mechanical engineering Abdullah Alsharhan.

In one application of this new approach, the team is exploring the use of strategy to implement biomedical applications so that loose printed objects can be reshaped from the body in the face of certain stimuli. The group is in discussions with several DoD labs to help morphing the nozzle for defense and to produce weapons for other military systems.

Sochol said, “This work opens the door for new 3D printing applications to take advantage of these unique properties of materials and their distinctive capabilities.”

Reference: Connor D. Armstrong, Noah Todd, Abdullah T. Alsharhan, David I. Bigio, and Ryan D. Sochol, “Morphing – Nozzle 3D Printing: A 3D Printed Morphing Nozzle Fiber Orientation in the Manufacture of Additive Control Compounds.” , Advanced Material Technologies.
DOI: 10.1002 / admt.202170004

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