Product designers have long used 3D printing but now the technology is finding its way into daily life. These machines are now being used to "print" plastic tools, manufacture automotive parts, and much more. The possibilities are almost endless. Unfortunately, the polymer "ink" used to print these pieces isn't quite as abundant as the ideas for their usage. In fact, only a handful of polymers are currently capable of being used by these technology wonders.
In order for the technology to reach its full potential, new polymers must be developed. Professor Timothy Long will present a special lecture on just this topic as part of Pittsburg State University's Distinguished Polymer Lecture Series. Dr. Long is a professor in the Department of Chemistry, and Director of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute at Virginia Tech. He is the 2017 recipient of the John C. Shrug Research Award, and has presented more than 90 lectures at industrial organizations such as BASF, Dow, DuPont, IBM and more. (Watch this interview with Dr. Long from 2015)
Dr. Long's lecture, "3D printing needs new polymers: From printed satellites to printed pharmaceuticals," will provide audiences with an in-depth look at the current state of the industry and what lies ahead. A detailed description is below.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, revolutionizes the fabrication of unique and complex architectures in a layer-by-layer approach. In concert with engineering innovation, design and synthesis of novel polymers is crucial for the development of these technologies beyond their current limitations. A unique synthetic strategy involving simultaneous photo-polymerization and crosslinking of acrylate systems during vat photo-polymerization printing overcomes traditional material challenges associated with the technique.
This novel approach combines processing advantages of low molecular weight systems with tunable (thermo) mechanical performance similar to high molecular weight polymer networks. Additionally, unrivaled fabrication of polyimide structures with micron-scale resolution is possible through solvent-based vat-photopolymerization printing. Synthesis of poly(amic diethyl acrylate ester) as novel photo-crosslinkable precursors enables printing of novel 3D organogels. After thermal treatment, these objects isotropically shrink and imidize to produce high-resolution thermoplastic polyimide objects. Finally, Ion-containing polymers introduce unique functionality and processing advantages to 3D printing.
Targeted material design provides novel poly(ether ester) ionomers suitable for fused deposition modeling (FDM) additive manufacturing. Standard synthesis through melt polymerization of poly(ethylene glycol) and sulfonated isophthalate produces a printable, water-soluble ionomer. Ion exchange to divalent counter-ions such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc provides a high degree of tunability in melt viscosity. Poly(ether esters) ionomers with calcium counterions yielded flexible filament for subsequent processing and printing. Increased processability from ion interactions and tuned viscosity enables unprecedented FDM printing below 80 °C.