Principal investigator: Babak Eslami and Kamran Fouladi

University: Widener University

Industry partner: Verde Mantis, LP

Widener University's 3D Printing Research Group (W3PRG) in collaboration with Verde Mantis LP has developed a research project that aims to design and develop an environmentally controlled enclosure that can provide the optimum 3D printing conditions for a variety of polymers (e.g., ABS, PLA, or TPU) seeking specific material behaviors. This project is divided into two major and parallel tasks: (1) environmental conditioning and (2) material characterization. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is employed in the environmental conditioning task to first model the Mantis 3D Printer printing region and then determine the required airflow inside the enclosure to achieve the optimum conditions. This latter portion of this task is focused on defining the fan's location and supplied airflow rate to maintain near-uniform relative humidity and temperature patterns in the printing region. Subsequently, the physical enclosure with capabilities to actively control the fan's operation will be designed and fabricated based on the finding from the CFD simulation studies. The material characterization task will include two sets of characterization: macro-scale and micro-scale characterization. The macro-scale characterization will include tensile testing and impact testing to measure the strength and ductility of 3D printed parts. Concurrently, micro-scale characterization of the polymers will be performed by imaging and comparing the cross-sections by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). This project is a multidisciplinary project consisting of two full-time faculty (PIs of the project), two graduate students, and two undergraduate students, in addition to the Verde Mantis LP team of engineers and managers. The collaborative effort between Widener University and its industrial partner (Verde Mantis LP) aligns this project with the PA Manufacturing Fellows Initiative's mission to enhance the manufacturing capabilities of the state of PA.