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J. Manuf. Mater. Process. 2018, 2(2), 24;

Additive Manufacturing of Overhang Structures Using Moisture-Cured Silicone with Support Material

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 March 2018 / Revised: 11 April 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 17 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Additive Manufacturing)
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Additive manufacturing (AM) of soft materials has a wide variety of applications, such as customized or wearable devices. Silicone is one popular material for these applications given its favorable material properties. However, AM of silicone parts with overhang structures remains challenging due to the soft nature of the material. Overhang structures are the areas where there is no underlying structure. Typically, a support material is used and built in the underlying space so that the overhang structures can be built upon it. Currently, there is no support structure that has been used for AM of silicone. The goal of this study is to develop an AM process to fabricate silicone parts with overhang structures. We first identified and confirmed poly-vinyl alcohol (PVA), a water-soluble material, as a suitable support material for silicone by evaluating the adhesion strength between silicone and PVA. Process parameters for the support material, including critical overhang angle and minimum infill density for the support material, are identified. However, overhang angle alone is not the only determining factor for support material. As silicone is a soft material, it deflects due to its own weight when the height of the overhang structure increases. A finite element model is developed to estimate the critical overhang height paired with different overhang angles to determine whether the use of support material is needed. Finally, parts with overhang structures are printed to demonstrate the capability of the developed process. View Full-Text
Keywords: 3D printing; silicone; soft material; support structure 3D printing; silicone; soft material; support structure

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Muthusamy, M.; Safaee, S.; Chen, R.K. Additive Manufacturing of Overhang Structures Using Moisture-Cured Silicone with Support Material. J. Manuf. Mater. Process. 2018, 2, 24.

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