Lab researchers 3D print with high-performance carbon fiber

ScienceDaily | 3/1/2017 | Staff
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The research, published by the journal Nature Scientific Reports online on Feb. 28 represents a "significant advance" in the development of micro-extrusion 3D printing techniques for carbon fiber, the authors reported.

"The mantra is 'if you could make everything out of carbon fiber, you would' -- it's potentially the ultimate material," explained Jim Lewicki, principal investigator and the paper's lead author. "It's been waiting in the wings for years because it's so difficult to make in complex shapes. But with 3D printing, you could potentially make anything out of carbon fiber."

Carbon - Fiber - Lightweight - Material - Resistance

Carbon fiber is a lightweight, yet stiff and strong material with a high resistance to temperature, making the composite material popular in the aerospace, defense, and automotive industries, and sports such as surfing and motorcycle racing.

Carbon fiber composites are typically fabricated one of two ways, by physically winding the filaments around a mandrel, or weaving the fibers together like a wicker basket, resulting in finished products that are limited to either flat or cylindrical shapes, Lewicki said. Fabricators also tend to overcompensate with material due to performance concerns, making the parts heavier, costlier, and more wasteful than necessary.

LLNL - Researchers - Structures - Ink - Writing

However, LLNL researchers reported printing several complex 3D structures through a modified Direct Ink Writing (DIW) 3D printing process. Lewicki and his team also developed and patented a new chemistry that can cure the material in seconds instead of hours, and used the Lab's high-performance computing capabilities to develop accurate models of the flow of carbon fiber filaments.

"How we got past the clogging was through simulation," Lewicki said. "This has been successful in large part because of the computational models."

Modeling - LLNL - Supercomputers - Team - Engineers

Computational modeling was performed on LLNL's supercomputers by a team of computational engineers, who needed to simulate thousands of carbon fibers as they emerged from the ink nozzle to find out how to best align...
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