The move to multifunctionality in AM is littered with technical challenges, from the accurate and reliable deposition of different materials together and their interaction, to the design of these components and how best to integrate different materials for a given function. What is also clear is that current AM technologies such as laser sintering or fused deposition modelling, whilst having some advantages have some clear drawbacks for the production of multi-material parts. These are namely, in their accuracy, resolution and the processing environment required during manufacture. In the first year of this project a strategic review of the available manufacturing routes open to multi-functional AM has been carried out, with significant promise being shown by drop-on-demand inkjet techniques for processing materials. On this basis, new experimental material deposition test beds have been procured along with the necessary characterisation equipment to ensure material applicability to the jetting processes.
In total three jetting systems have been commissioned, one based on the FujiFilm Dimatix DMP2831, and two based on the PixDro LP50 architecture. All these systems are capable of depositing particulate based inks (such as those filled with silver) and a host of other materials with various viscosities. In particular, the PixDro systems have five different configurations to enable dual material printing, particulate printing and elevated temperature printing of hot melt polymers.
The project is now concentrated on the integration of printing on to existing additively manufactured substrates, such as those produced by ultrasonic consolidation, or materials developed in the sister project, Investigating the Jetting of Biodegradable and other Functionalised Materials through Reactive Ink. Benchmarking of the printing systems and materials is a key milestone in the development of the project and a clear Design of Experiments has been formulated to ascertain best practice and the gap between capability and key performance indicators in industry.
Project Team (Researchers)
Dr Ehab Saleh, Mirs Hagit Gilon, Mr Jayasheelan Vaithilingam
Former researcher: Dr Bochuan Liu
Co - Investigators
Dr Chris Tuck, Prof Ricky Wildman, Prof Ian Ashcroft, Prof Russ Harris, Prof Phill Dickens, Prof Richard Hague