Principal investigator: Megan Creighton

University: Drexel University

Industry partner: Arkema, Inc.

Additive manufacturing (AM) encompasses many technologies used to produce objects by successive addition of material in a layer-by-layer manner. Currently, AM techniques for thermoplastic polymers rely on local heating to melt and reshape the material. Photopolymerization AM methods can produce parts with superior surface finish and detail relative to the methods available for thermoplastics, but these methods use thermoset polymers and these positive attributes come at the expense of compatibility with large-scale recycling processes.

We will address this gap by developing a first-of-its-kind AM process that uses photopolymerization of thermoplastics. The photoinitiator used in this process is of critical importance, as this reaction governs the overall resolution limit and mechanical properties of the printed structure. Sartomer is a global industrial leader in the development and production of photoinitiators, and this collaboration will serve to identify and develop an appropriate photoinitiator product that will enable this emerging application in thermoplastic AM.