Acoustic Nozzle for 3D Printing

Problem Statement

The distribution of multiphase materials (solid microparticles/cells suspended in liquid) in the ink for 3D printing is random. Focusing microparticles in the 3D printed structure could potentially improve its properties, such as the load distribution, mechanical performance, and detection efficiency. However, existing methods of microparticles focusing for 3D printing have technical shortcomings. Another common issue of printers and other high-resolution machines is nozzle clogging, which results in the loss of time, budget, productivity, non-uniformity, and defect on the printed parts.

Objective

This project aims to develop an acoustic excitation solution to pattern microparticles/cells in the cylindrical tube of the printing nozzle, and subsequently in the printed structure as well as to suppress clogging of the nozzle.

Key Benefits/Outcomes

  • Successfully designed and developed an acoustic nozzle that has two main advantageous functionalities:
    • accumulation of microparticles/cells (being used for bioprinter, circuit, and powder injection printers)
    • suppression of nozzle clogging (being applied for the nozzle-based printer with the multiphase flow
  • The experiment result shows that C2C12 muscle cells exposed to acoustic excitation are concentrated within ±10° of the nozzle, while cells from normal printing (without acoustic excitation) are found scattered and uniformly distributed from -90° to 90°.
  • NTU filed a Provisional PCT patent: Acoustic Manipulation Of Microparticles/Cells And Suppression Of Nozzle Clogging For Additive Manufacturing (10201709717Q)
  • A bioprinter OEM has licensed the IP for evaluation in the bioprinting field.

Collaborator

Contacts

Mr. Marc Lee marc.lee@ntuitive.sg