3D Printing of Multi-Functional Structures

by Eric MacDonald, Youngstown State University

3D printing has generally been relegated to fabricating conceptual models and prototypes; however, increasingly, research is now focusing on fabricating functional end-use products.

As patents for 3D printing expire, new low cost desktop systems are being adopted more widely and this trend is leading to products being fabricated locally. However, currently the technology is limited in the number of materials used in fabrication and consequently is confined to fabricating simple static structures.

For additively manufactured products to be economically meaningful, additional functionalities are required to be incorporated in terms of electronic, electromechanical, electromagnetic, thermodynamic, chemical and optical content.

By interrupting the 3D printing and employing complementary manufacturing processes, additional functional content can be included in mass-customized structures.

This presentation will review work in multi-process 3D printing for creating structures with consumer-specific wearable electronics, electromechanical actuation, electromagnetics, propulsion and embedded sensors in soft tooling and even in metal and ceramic structures.

program: https://www.3dprintingelectronicsconference.com/program/

Interview

What drives you?
Enhancing 3D printing to print electronics, wearables, satellites and football helmets.

Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
To see the frontier of research in additive manufacturing with multi-functionality.

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
3D printing of ceramics for harsh applications, embedded sensors in 3D printed metal objects for structural health monitoring.

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
The manner in which the manufacturing of many high-value products will be transformed.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Patents, lack of industrial and government funding for research in additive manufacturing.

“Special quote”
I am working with the US National Football League (NFL) to 3D print next-generation football helmets. We are working to tailor the dynamic mechanical response of football helmets with complex geometries, like spatially varying lattices. Embedding sensors into these 3D-printing-enhanced structures will be the next step to provide real-time data on potential injuries. Having the sensors directly inform the behavior of the mechanical structure will be the holy grail.

About Eric MacDonald

Eric MacDonald, Ph.D. is a professor of electrical and computer engineering – with a joint appointment in manufacturing program and is the Friedman Chair for Manufacturing at Youngstown State University. Dr. MacDonald received his B.S. (1992), M.S. (1997) and Ph.D. (2002) degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

He worked in industry for 12 years at IBM and Motorola and subsequently co-founded a start-up – Pleiades Technologies, Inc. – specializing in self-test circuitry and CAD software and the startup was acquired by Magma Inc. (San Jose, CA).

Dr. MacDonald spent 2003 to 2016 at the University of Texas at El Paso as the associate director of the W. M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation and held faculty fellowships at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SPAWAR Navy Research (San Diego) and a State Department Fulbright Fellowship in South America.

His research interests include 3D printed multi-functional applications and closed-loop control in additive manufacturing with instrumentation and computer vision for improved quality and yield. Recent projects include 3D printing of structures such as nanosatellites with electronics in the structure (one of which was launched into Low Earth Orbit in 2013 and a replica of which is on display at the London Museum of Science).

He has over 50 peer-reviewed publications, several patents (one of which was licensed by Sony and Toshiba from IBM). He is a member of ASEE, senior member of IEEE and a registered Professional Engineer in Texas.