Dynamic Control of Fiber Orientation for Additive Manufacturing via a Soft-Actuating Nozzle
Bigio, David I
Sochol, Ryan D
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Recently, additive manufacturing of fiber-reinforced composite hydrogels has been used to create self-assembling and self-folding structures through hydration-triggered shape change. Additive manufacturing of shape-changing structures has applications in spatially-limited environments such as in-vivo biological implants and components for space travel. Fiber orientation in composite hydrogels dictates the degree of anisotropic swelling deformation of hydrated structures. This thesis explores the impact of extrusion channel geometry on fiber orientation as well as the relationship between fiber orientation and swelling deformation of composite hydrogels. To study the impact of fiber orientation on swelling deformation, fiber orientation in composite hydrogels was varied using diverging extrusion dies of increasing divergence angles. It was found that increasing channel divergence angle reduced the number of fibers oriented in the direction of flow, which led to increasingly isotropic swelling deformations. To create a gradient of fiber orientations in extruded structures, an extrusion nozzle utilizing soft actuators to alter its divergence angle in real-time was developed. Hydrogels extruded through the soft-actuated dynamic nozzle exhibited similar fiber orientation and swelling behavior to those extruded through the fixed divergence angles. Spatially-varied swelling deformation characteristics promise to improve additive manufacturing of self-assembling and self-folding structures by increasing the complexity of controllable shape change geometries achievable in extruded composite polymer structures.