Barcelona researchers Ievgenii Liashenko, Joan Rosell-Llompart, and Andreu Cabot have come together to author the recently published, ‘Ultrafast 3D printing with submicrometer features using electrostatic jet deflection.’ Following the continued trend for improving additive manufacturing processes as such technology begins to play an increasingly important role around the world—whether in industries like auto, aerospace, or medical—the authors focus on expanding the limits of production and performance of electrohydrodynamic jetting.
A common thread runs through many research papers today, regarding the immense benefits of 3D printing and additive manufacturing, but also the many challenges that still exist for users on any level. The research team points out that there are still ‘important limitations’ on the following:
- Production speed
- Availability and combination of materials
- Control over microstructure and functionality
“Additionally, the cost and complexity of manufacturing equipment that enables producing submicrometer features are prohibitive for a true distributed production,” note the authors.
Nozzle-based 3D printing does offer affordability and simplicity, however, allowing for fabrication of ‘virtually any substance,’ to include polymers, metals, ceramics, wood, and of course a variety of different elements associated with bioprinting and tissue engineering:
“Such unmatched material versatility stems from the use of metal or polymer melts or solvent-based inks, which can be formulated to contain any component in the form of ions, molecules, nanoparticles, or even living cells,” stated the authors.
Electrohydrodynamic (EHD) jetting offers unique benefits to users seeking high resolution 3D printing, eliminating nozzle clogging, allowing for the use of many different inks, and with viscosities ‘ranging over several orders of magnitude.’ There are still serious challenges though in meeting the massive accelerations required for speed while fabricating small and complex geometries.
The researchers aimed to ‘unleash the potential of high-speed printing’ by deflecting the jet trajectory, thus controlling continuous electrified jets affecting the printing substrate.
The authors used a traditional EHD printer; however, they customized the hardware by surrounding the jet with added electrodes for modification of the electric field.
“The voltages at these electrodes were synchronized and produced by amplifying a computer-generated signal in a range from about −2000 V to about 2000 V,” explained the authors. “The movement and position of the XY mechanical stage supporting the printing substrate was also controlled and synchronized through the same computer.”
Fiber length proved to be insufficient when patterns were printed more rapidly than the jet speed as it arrived at the substrate. As a solution, the researchers sought improved parameters, ‘easily accomplished’ with a different calibration pattern.
“Ultimately, the range of printable materials is only constrained by the requirement that the ink has proper electrical conductivity and viscoelastic properties to flow and prevent its capillary breakup,” explained the researchers. “Therefore, except for minor adjustments in formulation, the electrostatic jet deflection strategy can be extended to produce 3D objects from any of the materials that have already been made into fibers by electrospinning, including biomaterials and even living cells.”
“Through electrostatic deflection of electrified jets, 3D structures of increasing complexity, including crossovers and bridges, were printed by precise electrostatically-driven layer-by-layer self-assembly at frequencies as high as 2000 layers per second,” concluded the authors. “Besides, controlling the ink viscosity and composition allowed adjusting the microstructure of the printed objects. To sum up, we believe that the advantages of EHD jet deflection printing will represent a significant step forward toward ultrafast additive micromanufacturing of 3D objects with virtually any composition and adjusted microstructure and functionality.
What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.[Source / Images: ‘Ultrafast 3D printing with submicrometer features using electrostatic jet deflection’]
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