22 March 2018 Electrical conductivity and piezoresistive response of 3D printed thermoplastic polyurethane/multiwalled carbon nanotube composites
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Additive manufacturing (AM) is an emerging field experiencing rapid growth. This paper presents a feasibility study of using fused-deposition modeling (FDM) techniques with smart materials to fabricate objects with sensing and actuating capabilities. The fabrication of objects with sensing typically requires the integration and assembly of multiple components. Incorporating sensing elements into a single FDM process has the potential to significantly simplify manufacturing. The integration of multiple materials, especially smart materials and those with multi-functional properties, into the FDM process is challenging and still requires further development.

Previous works by the authors have demonstrated a good printability of thermoplastic polyurethane/multiwall carbon nanotubes (TPU/MWCNT) while maintaining conductivity and piezoresistive response. This research explores the effects of layer height, nozzle temperature, and bed temperature on the electrical conductivity and piezoresistive response of printed TPU/MWCNT nanocomposites. An impedance analyzer was used to determine the conductivity of printed samples under different printing conditions from 5Hz-13MHz. The samples were then tested under compression loads to measure the piezoresistive response.

Results show the conductivity and piezoresistive response are only slightly affected by the print parameters and they can be largely considered independent of the print conditions within the examined ranges of print parameters. This behavior simplifies the printing process design for TPU/MWCNT complex structures. This work demonstrates the possibility of manufacturing embedded and multidirectional flexible strain sensors using an inexpensive and versatile method, with potential applications in soft robotics, flexible electronics, and health monitoring.
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Cameron J. Hohimer, Cameron J. Hohimer, Gayaneh Petrossian, Gayaneh Petrossian, Amir Ameli, Amir Ameli, Changki Mo, Changki Mo, Petra Pötschke, Petra Pötschke, "Electrical conductivity and piezoresistive response of 3D printed thermoplastic polyurethane/multiwalled carbon nanotube composites", Proc. SPIE 10596, Behavior and Mechanics of Multifunctional Materials and Composites XII, 105960J (22 March 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2296774; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2296774

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