Fiber material

3D printing of thermosetting polymer composites reinforced with short carbon fibers

Credit: Colorado State University

The 27-second video plays on a loop and it’s mesmerizing to watch: carbon-fiber material coming out of a 3D printer and slowly swirling and piling up like soft serve ice cream.

Except there’s no ice cream cone or tumbler to hold this material, known as carbon fiber composite, a strong, lightweight material that’s been used for decades on everything from backboards. plane and wind turbines to tennis rackets.

In the video, the material hardens on its own as it unfolds on a heated surface, with no mold or structure to hold it in place.

This free-form creation shows the work of Mostafa Yourdkhani, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, who strives to reduce the cost, time and energy required to produce these complex structures. , according to his last article published on the cover of Applied materials and ACS interfaces.

“We’re making it faster and more energy efficient,” Yourdkhani said. Mechanical engineering PhD students Morteza Ziaee and James W. Johnson are also the authors of the article. “Imagine you want to bake a cake and you put the dough on a bench and it just becomes a cake with a trigger. For cakes, you need molds; here we make structures without molds. It’s intricate patterns that are lightweight and fuel efficient.

He and his team are among the first in the world to achieve this type of composite printing.





Credit: Colorado State University

The video alone is gaining traction on his LinkedIn account with around 1,000 likes from colleagues around the world. “A video of our recent work on printing and in-situ curing fiber-reinforced discontinuous thermoset composites,” reads his post. “Two printing strategies (free print and layer-by-layer) with no post-curing step. See our article led by Morteza Ziaee on this interesting work.”

“I’m quite passionate about this technology,” Yourdkhani later states. “Having worked in the composites field for many years, this technology addresses all the issues we have with composite production.”

Yourdkhani shows the video to illustrate that he and his graduate students discovered a way to print carbon fiber composites in a very short time with minimal heat. Most industrial carbon fiber production requires intense heating of molds that spend 6 to 10 hours in huge ovens the size of tractor-trailers.

Forget the giant molds and cut the time down to minutes, that’s what Yourdkhani’s team did to create these thermoset composites in their lab. Thermosetting polymers are liquids that solidify through a one-way chemical reaction, meaning they will not return to liquid upon reheating. Epoxy used in woodworking is an example of a thermosetting polymer.

This summer, he engaged undergraduate engineering students and high school students in his research, but he is also looking for students from different disciplines like chemistry and computer science.

“Chemistry, mechanical engineering, robotics and computer science are all connected to make this happen.”


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More information:
Morteza Ziaee et al, 3D printing of thermosetting polymer composites reinforced with short carbon fibers by frontal polymerization, Applied materials and ACS interfaces (2022). DOI: 10.1021/acsami.2c02076

Provided by Colorado State University

Quote: 3D printing of thermoset polymer composites reinforced with short carbon fibers (2022, August 9) retrieved on August 9, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-3d-short-carbon-fiber-reinforced-thermoset -composites-polymers.html

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