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Development of 3D Printer using Laser Assisted Tunable Curing of Thermosets

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Contract: W911NF-21-P-0037
Agency Tracking Number: A20B-T010-0017
Amount: $166,489.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: A20B-T010
Solicitation Number: 20.B
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-02-09
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-08-09
Small Business Information
310 Rolling Ridge Drive
Bellefonte, PA 16823-8445
United States
DUNS: 791379030
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Roger Bagwell
 (814) 355-0003
Business Contact
 Maureen L. Mulvihill
Phone: (814) 355-0003
Research Institution
 The Pennsylvania State University
 John Hanold
112 Hammond Building
University Park, PA 16802-0000
United States

 (814) 863-5423
 Nonprofit College or University

Significant advances have been made for additive manufacturing (AM) of both thermoplastics and optically cured thermosets. AM of thermally cured thermosets has lagged behind. Materials that belong to this thermally cured class of thermosets, such as silicone rubbers and polyurethanes, are not well represented in the AM space, despite their widespread use in medical, military, and other arenas. There is a clear need to develop a practical and commercially viable means for AM of thermally cured thermosets. Ideally, this solution would enable AM of current commercially viable thermally cured thermosets with a speed that is comparable to those already realized for thermoplastics and optically cured thermosets. Realizing this goal will provide several benefits, including: Parts built from thermally cured thermosets with designs that cannot be achieved via casting/molding. Iteration of part designs without having to invest the time and funds in new molds. Medical and military devices and personal protection equipment (PPE), custom-fit to the end-user. Ability to print multifunctional composite materials, with a soft inner layer and a harder outer layer. Rapid production capability for DoD personnel when deployed overseas at forward locations. Simplification of supply chains, as stocks of different parts is replaced by a single raw material.   This project will develop a printer capable of printing composites of commercially available thermally cured PDMS, directly yielding a cured final part. This work will be accomplished by a team of three organizations, Actuated Medical, Actinic, and the Lear Research Group at the Pennsylvania State University. Actuated Medical has significant engineering, 3D printing, and commercialization experience, while Actinic and the Lear Research Group have already constructed a primitive working PDMS printer, upon which this work builds. Using the photothermal effect of gold nanoparticles, the Lear Laboratory attained extremely rapid temperature cycling rates, moving from room temperature to 1000 K in 8 ns. Both the rate and the final temperature are many orders of magnitude greater than what is required to meet the technical challenge outlined above. The Lear Research Group has also demonstrated the chemical relevance of this heat, which provides up to a one billion (109) fold enhancement to the rate of polyurethane, epoxy, and silicone curing, suggesting that photothermal curing can be used to bring rapid (less than 1 ms), on-demand curing to a wide range of thermally cured thermoset polymers using a range of photothermal composite materials (carbon fiber, ceramics, graphene, metals, and metal oxides). Importantly, the physical and mechanical properties of materials that were photothermal cured were controllable and similar to those attained using bulk-scale heat (ovens) to cure. The photothermal approach to curing will enable AM of commercial PDMS.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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