Fabrication and Characterization of Carbon Nanocomposite Photopolymers via Projection Stereolithography

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Virginia Tech

Projection Stereolithography (PSL) is an Additive Manufacturing process that digitally patterns light to selectively expose and layer photopolymer into three dimensional objects. Nanomaterials within the photopolymer are therefore embedded inside fabricated objects. Adding varying concentrations of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) to the photopolymer may allow for the engineering of an objects tensile strength and electric conductivity. This research has two goals (i) the fabrication of three-dimensional structures using PSL and (ii) the material characterization of nanocomposite photopolymers. A morphological matrix design tool was developed and used to categorically analyze published PSL systems. These results were used to justifying design tradeoffs during the design and fabricate of a new PSL system. The developed system has 300μm resolution, 45mm x 25mm fabrication area, 0.23mW/cm2 intensity, and 76.2mm per hour vertical build rate. Nanocomposite materials were created by mixing Objet VeroClear FullCure 810 photopolymer with 0.1, 0.2, and 0.5 weight percent MWCNT using non-localized bath sonication. The curing properties of these nanocomposite mixtures were characterized; adding 0.1 weight-percent MWCNT increases the critical exposure by 10.7% and decreases the depth of penetration by 40.1%. The material strength of these nanocomposites were quantified through tensile testing; adding 0.1 weight-percent MWCNT decreases the tensile stress by 45.89%, the tensile strain by 33.33%, and the elastic modulus by 28.01%. Higher concentrations always had exaggerated effects. Electrical conductivity is only measurable for the 0.5 weight-percent nanocomposite with a 8k/mm resistance. The 0.1 weight-percent nanocomposite was used in the PSL system to fabricate a three-dimensional nanocomposite structure.

Additive manufacturing, Microstereolithography, Vat Polymerization, Nanocomposite Polymer, Carbon Nanotubes