Extrusion 3D-printing of functional polymers
AffiliationChemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Dr. Milena Nadgorny
Since its early introduction in the 1980s, 3D-printing has attracted considerable attention owing to its revolutionary ability to manufacture hierarchically complex structures in a simple and customable manner. With the increasing interest in 3D-printing, the need for the development of new printable materials is constantly growing in an attempt to integrate 3D-printing into new emerging fields and to enable innovative applications. In particular, there is a great interest in ‘smart’ and dynamic polymers that can respond to external stimuli, such as pH, light or temperature, and perform essential functions. These materials hold great promise in a myriad of applications such as sensing, biomedicine, and robotics. While the synthesis of functional polymers has been explored for decades, their compliance with 3D-printing technology is less studied and can become challenging, particularly when completely new polymers are processed. 3D-printable materials have to be formulated within a well-defined range of rheological parameters, exhibit structural integrity, be mechanically robust, and retain their shape and function post-printing. Meeting these criteria is essential for optimized 3D-printing and functional performance. This work describes the design, synthesis, characterization and 3D-printing of functional materials, focusing on pH-responsive polymers and self-healing gels. The function and properties of these materials are investigated, exploring their utility for the advanced manufacturing of functional and dynamic objects such as shape morphing structures, flow regulators, and catalytic devices. The processability of these polymers and gels are studied for the first time and optimized for 3D-printing. Additionally, new approaches and methods are presented to address the process related limitations of 3D-printing, aiming to improve the mechanical properties of soft 3D-printed gels and to control the thermal processing of polymers. Both synthetic and engineering aspects of the development of new 3D-printable materials are outlined.
Keywords3D-printing; functional polymers; smart materials; self-healing gels; extrusion
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