Developing Intelligent Structures and Functional Devices Using Novel Smart Materials and Multi-Material Multi-Method (m4) 3D Printing
Roach, Devin John
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The advent of additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing, has enabled the rapid, on-demand fabrication of complex structures previously unrealizable with traditional manufacturing techniques. Nonetheless, AM yet to achieve widespread adoption in many industrial sectors and still has a vast, unrealized potential in the development of functional components that can meet specific geometrical or material demands. To address this challenge, the research presented herein demonstrates a novel methodology for printing multiple materials, each with unique properties, in a single AM part. For example, a unique geometrical combination of soft and stiff materials can be used to print a custom brush with a rigid handle and soft bristles. Furthermore, cutting-edge materials such as conductive metals or smart/active polymers were developed which could be 3D printed to create functional devices finding applications in wearable electronics, implantable medical devices, and smart robotics. Functional, multi-material AM components which can be produced on-demand, for specific applications, have demonstrated a bright future for solving growing engineering challenges related to infrastructure, renewable energy, biomedicine, and more. Therefore, the focus of the following dissertation lies at the intersection of additive manufacturing, novel materials development, and structural design to create multi-functional components that can solve the engineering challenges of tomorrow.