The intractable nature of intrinsically conductive polymers (ICP) leads to practical limitations in the fabrication of ICP-based transducers having complex three-dimensional geometries. Conventional ICP device fabrication processes have focused primarily on thin-film deposition techniques; therefore this study explores novel additive manufacturing processes specifically developed for ICP with the ultimate goal of increasing the functionality of ICP sensors and actuators. Herein we employ automated polymer paste extrusion processes for the direct ink writing of 3D conductive polyaniline (PANI) structures. Realization of these structures is enabled through a modified fused filament fabrication delta robot equipped with an integrated polymer paste extruder. This unique robot-controlled additive manufacturing platform is capable of fabricating high-resolution 3D conductive PANI and has been utilized to produce structures with a minimum feature size of 1.5 mm. The required processability of PANI is achieved by means of a counter-ion induced thermal doping method. Using this method, a viscous paste is formulated as the extrudate and a thermo-chemical treatment is applied post extrusion to finalize the complexation.
F. Benjamin Holness and Aaron D. Price, "Robotic extrusion processes for direct ink writing of 3D conductive polyaniline structures," Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 97981G (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 23, 2016; Published: 15 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2205905.
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