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Responsive coatings lead to stronger 3-D-printed parts

By Chemical Engineering |

Additive manufacturing (3-D printing) has quickly gained popularity, due in part to its potential for rapidly creating customized parts. However, one inherent limitation of additive manufacturing — specifically the high-speed fused deposition modeling (FDM) technique — is the potential for weak bonds between layers, which increases the likelihood of mechanical failure. With its FlashFuse technology, Essentium Materials LLC (College Station, Tex.; www.essentiummaterials.com) aims to enable stronger and tougher FDM 3-D-printed components by employing a sophisticated electric-welding technique along with proprietary filament materials coated with electromagnetically responsive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Electromagnetically heating the CNT skin on the filaments results in interlayer polymer diffusion, producing stronger welds between layers (diagram). Furthermore, the CNT coating enables targeted heating at potentially weak joints, allowing for improved interlayer polymer entanglements, making the finished parts even more resilient. “FDM 3-D printing can now attain the same level of utility and functionality for industrial applications comparative to traditional manufacturing methods,” says Essentium Materials president and chief…
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