5561 Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing with Advanced Thermoset and Thermoplastic Materials

JuggerBot 3D is developing a production-ready large-scale printer that can print both thermoset and thermoplastic materials.

Problem

While thermoplastic materials are widely utilized in additive manufacturing (AM) and have demonstrated the advantages of being high strength, lightweight, and relatively low cost to produce, they have certain drawbacks such as lower melting temperatures and the tendency to stretch and weaken under exposure to long-term stress loads. With methods like fused filament fabrication (FFF) and fused granular fabrication (FGF) only capable of processing thermoplastic materials, there is a tremendous need to develop new extrusion methods to process thermally-cured thermosets with low coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE) for high-strength and high-temperature applications. There is a gap in even the most advanced printer offerings available today that prohibits the use of the advanced thermoset composites commonly found in industrial and military-relevant applications.

Objective

This project seeks to advance the state-of-the-art for large-scale thermoset additive manufacturing. In addition to machine development, materials characterization and process development will be carried out so that, by the end of this effort, the technology developed should be sufficiently advanced to enable usage in a production environment. The technologies developed and the data collected will allow the additive production of medium and large-scale aerospace tools and secondary structural components, high-temperate insulations, gaskets, seals and bushings, structural and secondary components for unmanned aircraft and vehicles, and more.

Technical Approach

JuggerBot 3D will develop a new, large-format material extrusion system that incorporates both a pellet-fed extruder and a two-part resin dispensing system with dynamic mixing to process both performance thermoplastic and thermoset composite materials. Advanced methods to calibrate both pellet-fed and resin dispensing systems will be included within the control center of the new AM system to increase the accuracy of layer dimensions and improve bead geometry control throughout the printing process. The advancement of toolpath generating and g-code editing software will enable the ability to process both advanced thermosets and thermoplastic materials.

With support from the Purdue University Composites Additive Manufacturing & Simulation (CAMS ) Consortium, materials will be characterized in terms of their chemical, physical, mechanical, and rheological behavior. Material testing for both thermoplastic and thermoset composite materials will be used to solidify the initial process predictions and provide system-level validation. A digital material database will be developed for the materials tested and verified.

JuggerBot 3D will work with the Advanced Composites Institute (ACI) at Mississippi State University to create and demonstrate a workflow to produce composite tooling using both thermoplastics and thermosets. This workflow will cover design for additive manufacturing (DFAM), tool path generation, printing, post-curing, machining/post-processing, and scanning for quality inspection.

Project Participants

Project Principal

Other Project Participants

  • Mississippi State University
  • Polynt Group
  • Purdue University (CAMS Consortium)

Public Participants

  • U.S. Department of Defense

Project Summary

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