Aligning molecular and structural dynamics in additive manufacturing of thermoplastics; towards enhanced weld mechanics and geometrical stability

by Jules Harings, Maastricht University, Aachen Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials

Additive manufacturing is a technology that develops rapidly as a niche within the field of discrete manufacturing. Unique products of high added value rely on customisation and nearly endless design flexibility and are progressively introduced in automotive, aerospace, art and medical industiesy. Nevertheless, despite successes with metals and living materials, a mismatch in product quality and expectations has been the Achilles’ heel in the mass adoption of thermoplastics in 3D printing, especially in fused deposition modelling (FDM).

In comparison to other, successful construction materials such as metals, the long nature of polymer molecules and the consequential entanglements are on one hand the origin of the praised mechanical properties that are accessible via melt shaping under relatively mild conditions, but tremendously reduce the time-scales of filament fusion, molecular mixing and crystallization on the other hand. Inadequate alignment of these chemically controlled time-scales with printing parameters are the cause of internal stresses, inferior (durable) mechanical properties in especially the build direction, and short- and long-term distortion in geometry (warping).

By means of controlled chemistry and advanced analytical techniques we will (i) highlight the relevant time-scales from molecular, structural as well as processing perspective, and (ii) its technical implications on enhancing ultimate thermoplastic performance.


About Jules Harings

Jules Harings is associate professor Macromolecular Physics & Technology at Maastricht University. He received his PhD in Polymer Technology from Eindhoven Technical University under supervision of Prof. S. Rastogi and Prof. P.J. Lemstra (2009). Currently he chairs the board of examiners Masters Systems Biology and BioBased Materials and coordinates several BioBased Master courses. His focus as principle investigator in the Aachen Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials is studying, understanding and technically exploiting the behavior of macromolecules in (i) additive manufacturing and fiber spinning in e.g. regenerative medicine, and (ii) water actuated structural refinement, functionalization and biodegradability for timed polyamide performance.

About Maastricht University

Maastricht University (UM) is the most international university in the Netherlands and, with 18,000 students and 4,400 employees, is still growing. The university stands out for its innovative education model, international character and multidisciplinary approach to research and education.

Thanks to its high-quality research and study programmes as well as a strong focus on social engagement, UM has quickly built up a solid reputation. Today it is considered one of the best young universities in the world.

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