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Direct-Ink-Writing (DIW) of Higher Weight Concentration of Milled Carbon Fiber (MCF) Reinforced Epoxy Composite



Additive manufacturing or 3D printing of short carbon fiber composites is highly inclined toward thermoplastic material. Recently, there is some interest in developing 3D printing technology for thermosetting polymers and composites. Direct-ink-writing (DIW) of short fiber epoxy composites containing milled carbon fibers (MCF) exhibits the potential to replace the traditional composite material as it showcases the inherent capability of fabricating complex geometries, facile material processing, continuous printing capability coupled with low cost. Previous research in 3D printing of short carbon fiber epoxy composites suffered heavily from the limitation of printing low carbon fiber weight concentrations. This study developed a straightforward technique of designing the epoxy ink containing high weight concentration MCF (~40wt%) and a small concentration of thixotropic filler (3-wt%) for DIW using a pneumatic pressure-driven extruder having micron size tapered nozzle. This paper also intends to contribute to a better understanding of the effect of printing parameters on DIW. Furthermore, the printing parameters were optimized using non-dimensionalized constant C. Optimized printing condition was further used to print different geometry ranging from dog bone with 100% infill to 4-layer hollow circle and 3-layer hollow square with 0% infill. Lastly, ink exhibits the capability to self-support multi-layer geometrical structures during printing.


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