Three-dimensional (3D) printing offers the potential to digitally specify the form and function of materials. This project focuses on patterning 3D ceramic architectures by designing and implementing microfluidic printheads for use with model colloidal suspensions - i.e. concentrated fluids, gels, and biphasic mixtures - whose flow behavior can be directly imaged within microfluidic core-shell and multinozzle printheads. Advances from this research effort are expediting the transformation of 3D printing from rapid prototyping to a true manufacturing platform. The fundamental knowledge gained from this program of research will enable low-cost, high-throughput printing of designer ceramics that may find application as 3D ceramic composites, membranes, and battery electrodes. In addition, new scientific understanding of the flow and mixing of concentrated colloidal suspensions within confined microfluidic geometries is emerging from this effort.
TECHNICAL DETAILS: This project focuses on 3D printing of concentrated colloidal inks in interspersed and interpenetrating motifs using microfluidic core-shell and multinozzle printheads. Fundamental relationships between ink rheology, printhead designs, and printing behavior are being systematically investigated. The resulting 3D ceramic architectures may offer significant performance advantages in a broad range of applications, including lightweight composites, membranes, and batteries. The project integrates multiple education and outreach activities aimed at expanding the number of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through public lectures and hands-on activities as well as by creating scientific videos of our research targeted for the DIY (do-it-yourself) and maker communities.