The layer-by-layer nature of additive manufacturing (AM) allows for access to the entire build volume of an artifact during manufacture, including its internal structure. Internal voids are accessible during the build process and allow for components to be embedded and sealed with subsequently printed layers. When AM is combined with Direct Write (DW) of conductive materials, the resulting hybrid process enables the direct manufacture of parts with embedded electronics, including interconnects and sensors. However, the hybridization of DW and AM technologies is non-trivial due to (i) identifying DW materials and processes that are compatible with AM infrastructure, throughput and resolution, (ii) temperature processing requirements, and (iii) interactions between the two materials. In this paper, the authors explore DW technologies and materials to identify those that are most compatible with AM. From this exploration, the authors abstract a set of generalized design considerations for the design of a hybrid AM and DW process. These considerations are then employed in a systematic design process in which a DW system for depositing conductive materials during the PolyJet manufacturing process is realized. The resulting system is able to create embedded functional electronic interconnects and sensors in printed parts composed of both stiff and flexible polymers.
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