skip to main content

Title: 3D Printing of Nacre-Inspired Structures with Exceptional Mechanical and Flame-Retardant Properties
Flame-retardant and thermal management structures have attracted great attention due to the requirement of high-temperature exposure in industrial, aerospace, and thermal power fields, but the development of protective fire-retardant structures with complex shapes to fit arbitrary surfaces is still challenging. Herein, we reported a rotation-blade casting-assisted 3D printing process to fabricate nacre-inspired structures with exceptional mechanical and flame-retardant properties, and the related fundamental mechanisms are studied. 3-(Trimethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate (TMSPMA) modified boron nitride nanoplatelets (BNs) were aligned by rotation-blade casting during the 3D printing process to build the “brick and mortar” architecture. The 3D printed structures are more lightweight, while having higher fracture toughness than the natural nacre, which is attributed to the crack deflection, aligned BN (a-BNs) bridging, and pull-outs reinforced structures by the covalent bonding between TMSPMA grafted a-BNs and polymer matrix. Thermal conductivity is enhanced by 25.5 times compared with pure polymer and 5.8 times of anisotropy due to the interconnection of a-BNs. 3D printed heat-exchange structures with vertically aligned BNs in complex shapes were demonstrated for efficient thermal control of high-power light-emitting diodes. 3D printed helmet and armor with a-BNs show exceptional mechanical and fire-retardant properties, demonstrating integrated mechanical and thermal protection.
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1 to 12
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Lightweight and strong structural materials attract much attention due to their strategic applications in sports, transportation, aerospace, and biomedical industries. Nacre exhibits high strength and toughness from the brick-and-mortar–like structure. Here, we present a route to build nacre-inspired hierarchical structures with complex three-dimensional (3D) shapes by electrically assisted 3D printing. Graphene nanoplatelets (GNs) are aligned by the electric field (433 V/cm) during 3D printing and act as bricks with the polymer matrix in between as mortar. The 3D-printed nacre with aligned GNs (2 weight %) shows lightweight property (1.06 g/cm 3 ) while exhibiting comparable specific toughness and strength to the natural nacre. In addition, the 3D-printed lightweight smart armor with aligned GNs can sense its damage with a hesitated resistance change. This study highlights interesting possibilities for bioinspired structures, with integrated mechanical reinforcement and electrical self-sensing capabilities for biomedical applications, aerospace engineering, as well as military and sports armors.
  2. Photopolymerizable semicrystalline thermoplastics resulting from thiol–ene polymerizations were formed via fast polymerizations and achieved excellent mechanical properties. These materials have been shown to produce materials desirable for additive manufacturing (3D printing), especially for recyclable printing and investment casting. However, while well-resolved prints were previously achieved with the thiol–ene thermoplastics, the remarkable elongation at break ( ε max ) and toughness ( T ) attained in bulk were not realized for 3D printed components ( ε max,bulk ∼ 790%, T bulk ∼ 102 MJ m −3 vs. ε max,print < 5%, T print < 0.5 MJ m −3 ). In this work, small concentrations (5–10 mol%) of a crosslinker were added to the original thiol–ene resin composition without sacrificing crystallization potential to achieve semicrystalline, covalently crosslinked networks with enhanced mechanical properties. Improvements in ductility and overall toughness were observed for printed crosslinked structures, and substantial mechanical augmentation was further demonstrated with post-manufacture thermal conditioning of printed materials above the melting temperature ( T m ). In some instances, this thermal conditioning to reset the crystalline component of the crosslinked prints yielded mechanical properties that were comparable or superior to its bulk counterpart ( ε max ∼ 790%, T ∼ 95 MJmore »m −3 ). These unique photopolymerizations and their corresponding monomer compositions exhibited concurrent polymerization and crystallization along with mechanical properties that were tunable by changes to the monomer composition, photopolymerization conditions, and post-polymerization conditioning. This is the first example of a 3D printed semicrystalline, crosslinked material with thermally tunable mechanical properties that are superior to many commercially-available resins.« less
  3. Fabricating polymer-matrix composite materials with microfibers aligned along a user-specified direction is important to obtain specific material properties, such as anisotropic electrical and thermal conductivity and improved mechanical strength. We quantify macro- and microscale alignment of microfibers embedded in photopolymer resin, 3D-printed using ultrasound directed self-assembly (DSA) and stereolithography, as a function of three dimensionless input parameters: microfiber weight fraction, dimensionless ultrasound transducer input power, and dimensionless ultrasound transducer separation distance. We use regression analysis to determine microfiber alignment as a function of the fabrication process parameters. Microscale alignment is primarily determined by microfiber weight fraction, whereas macroscale alignment is a function of microfiber weight fraction, dimensionless ultrasound transducer separation distance, and dimensionless ultrasound transducer input power. Relating microfiber alignment to the fabrication process parameters is a crucial step towards 3D-printing composite materials with specific anisotropic material properties.
  4. Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites have been increasingly used in many vehicles such as airplanes, automobiles, and ships due to the advantages of high-strength, high-modulus, lightweight, and corrosion resistance. CFRP structures enhance the vehicle's performance, energy-efficiency, comfort, and safety. However, a common safety concern is how the CFRP materials perform when the vehicle is in fire and if there are enough time to safely evacuate the passengers. The elevated temperature can soften and decompose the polymer matrix, delaminate the CFRP laminate, and burn the CFRP through the contact with oxygen. As a result, the thermal and flammability response of CFRP is important for considering CFRP for vehicle applications; and some specialty high-temperature or flame/smoke/toxicity-proven resins have been investigated for CFRP parts manufacturing due to the needs. In this paper, a novel flame resistant hypothesis of utilizing the unique nano/micro- interlocked fiber reinforcing structure of the long-range carbon nanofiber z-threaded CFRP (ZT-CFRP) composite laminates for improving the flammability performance will be investigated. The carbon nanofibers (CNT) and carbon nanotubes (CNT), which have excellent thermal and mechanical properties, will be dispersed in an epoxy resin and will zig-zag thread through a carbon fiber fabric using an electrical/flow assisted impregnation process tomore »create the unidirectional ZT-CFRP prepregs, respectively, which will be further processed into ZT-CFRP composite laminates. The UL-94 flammability test will be employed to characterize the ZT-CFRP laminates' flammability performance against the control baseline data of the regular CFRP, all without using any flame retardant chemicals. An impressive self-extinguishing flammability characteristic of the CNF based ZT-CFRP samples has been distinctly identified from all the samples. The UL-94 testing results and the effectiveness of using the long-range nanofiber z-threading strategy for enabling the novel nano/microstructure-induced flame resistant and self-extinguishing characteristics will be discussed.« less
  5. Purpose This paper aims to summarize the up-to-date research performed on combinations of various biofibers and resin systems used in different three-dimensional (3D) printing technologies, including powder-based, material extrusion, solid-sheet and liquid-based systems. Detailed information about each process, including materials used and process design, are described, with the resultant products’ mechanical properties compared with those of 3D-printed parts produced from pure resin or different material combinations. In most processes introduced in this paper, biofibers are beneficial in improving the mechanical properties of 3D-printed parts and the biodegradability of the parts made using these green materials is also greatly improved. However, research on 3D printing of biofiber-reinforced composites is still far from complete, and there are still many further studies and research areas that could be explored in the future. Design/methodology/approach The paper starts with an overview of the current scenario of the composite manufacturing industry and then the problems of advanced composite materials are pointed out, followed by an introduction of biocomposites. The main body of the paper covers literature reviews of recently emerged 3D printing technologies that were applied to biofiber-reinforced composite materials. This part is classified into subsections based on the form of the starting materials used inmore »the 3D printing process. A comprehensive conclusion is drawn at the end of the paper summarizing the findings by the authors. Findings Most of the biofiber-reinforced 3D-printed products exhibited improved mechanical properties than products printed using pure resin, indicating that biofibers are good replacements for synthetic ones. However, synthetic fibers are far from being completely replaced by biofibers due to several of their disadvantages including higher moisture absorbance, lower thermal stability and mechanical properties. Many studies are being performed to solve these problems, yet there are still some 3D printing technologies in which research concerning biofiber-reinforced composite parts is quite limited. This paper unveils potential research directions that would further develop 3D printing in a sustainable manner. Originality/value This paper is a summary of attempts to use biofibers as reinforcements together with different resin systems as the starting material for 3D printing processes, and most of the currently available 3D printing techniques are included herein. All of these attempts are solutions to some principal problems with current 3D printing processes such as the limit in the variety of materials and the poor mechanical performance of 3D printed parts. Various types of biofibers are involved in these studies. This paper unveils potential research directions that would further widen the use of biofibers in 3D printing in a sustainable manner.« less