Jun 19, 2017 | By Tess

A researcher from the University of New Orleans has obtained a grant of $150,000 from the Louisiana Board of Regents to conduct research related to 3D printing materials. Damon Smith, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will use the funds to improve FDM 3D printing filaments through the addition of nanoparticles.

The goal of the research will be to develop new and improved 3D printing filaments that possess better mechanical and optical properties, which could open up new applications for FDM 3D printed parts and objects.

Assistant professor Damon Smith

Smith will be conducting the innovative research in the context of the University of New Orleans’ Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI), a 10,000-square-foot facility with over $9.5 million worth of advanced materials equipment and instrumentation. AMRI’s research has a broad scope, with researchers pursuing projects related to drug delivery, thermal and electrical transport, nanofabrication, and more.

Smith’s own research with AMRI will be geared towards materials for fused deposition modeling, a 3D printing process that involves depositing layers of melted plastic filament, fusing each layer together until the object is made. Although by far the most accessible 3D printing process because of its low running costs, FDM still has its limitations.

For instance, parts made using FDM 3D printing are generally not strong enough to be used for load-bearing applications and are not well suited for electronic devices or light detection tools due to their poor optical properties.

Through the addition of nanoparticles, Smith and his team will seek to create better FDM materials which could be used for the aforementioned applications. “The goal is to find additive to the thermoplastic raw material currently sed in the process that are compatible with the existing technology and multiply the applications for the resulting products,” said the university.

The $150,000 grant was given to Smith by the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund, which is aimed at “strengthening the research competitiveness of Louisiana’a public and private universities.” According to the organization, funding is awarded to research projects which demonstrate potential for further funding on a national and federal level.

Grants are typically awarded within the fields of biology, chemistry, computer and information sciences, earth and environmental sciences, engineering, health, and medical sciences. From our perspective, it will certainly be interesting to see what Smith and his team at AMRI develop in terms of 3D printing materials—an area constantly in need of improvements and additions.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

 

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