Multi-scale characterization of additive manufacturing polymers: simulation and experimental study

Principal investigator: Babak Eslami, Kamran Fouladi

University: Widener University

Industry partners: Fenner Drives/Ninjaflex®

This project focuses on diagnosing the causes and precursors to 3D printed part failures, specifically for Ninjaflex® filaments. Ninjatek® technology, a Pennsylvania manufacturer, provides Ninjaflex® material for 3d printing of flexible parts such as seals, gaskets, plugs, leveling feet, or protective applications. Examples of failures for these parts are stringy prints, soft or brittle parts, jams, bubbly uneven surface textures, and improper extrusion flow. However, understanding the sources for these problems remains challenging, and lack of answers significantly diminishes the advantages offered by Ninjaflex® filaments. Therefore, this project intends to fill the knowledge gap currently present in the additive manufacturing field to determine sources of flexible parts failures and several other common 3D printing defects through a systematic and multi-scale investigation. This project will have two phases. Initially, atomic force microscopy (AFM) will be employed to characterize the filaments for 3D printing at micro- and nano-scale. The AFM filament topography and mechanical properties characterization will be performed at various environmental conditions (different printing temperature and humidity). The understanding of the material behavior of the backbone polymer of Ninjaflex® at micro-level should lead to defining the optimum condition for the 3D printing nozzle. In the second phase of the project, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) will be employed to simulate the conditions in the 3D printer chamber to determine the best possible setup for ensuring uniform environmental condition for 3d printing. As a result of this project, an optimum 3D printing conditions will be provided to Ninjatek© Inc. and the additive manufacturing field at large. Additionally, Ninjatek© Inc. will receive a detailed study of the characterization of their polymers to enhance the manufacturing process of their filaments as well information for providing the required printing conditions to their users.