In a recent article published in the journal Additive manufacturingthe researchers discussed how to create a fully integrated fusion electro-write 3D printer, from design to completion.
Study: How to design, develop and build a fully integrated fusion electro-write 3D printer. Image Credit: FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock.com
Utilizing high voltage between a print nozzle and a manifold to stabilize the flow of print material and enable precise and controlled deposition of micron to submicron diameter fibers, fusion electrowriting (MEW) is a manufacturing technology high resolution additive. MEW has experienced remarkable growth and development since its inception, despite the fact that this technology is still in its infancy.
Even though a number of companies have developed and started to offer MEW printers on the market, many researchers still use bespoke systems. There are several options for creating a custom MEW printing system, ranging from less expensive, simpler and reasonably easy to implement systems to sophisticated fully automated systems with real-time process monitoring.
Building more complicated structures with changing fiber sizes will be possible with further integration of other elements, such as a pressure source. The integration of the heating elements greatly benefits user-friendliness as it can be switched off automatically at the end of a draw.
About the study
In this study, the authors discussed the creation, design and construction of a single MEW printer with complete integration between all essential parts. The motion system, printhead and security systems have been described in detail. The different ways that could be used for each system in a bespoke MEW printer were illustrated, which provided the reader with a description of how it could be developed according to the particular needs of the end customer. The printer’s ability to create tissue-engineered scaffolds with different material topologies has been demonstrated.
The team explained how these systems were connected through a central control unit to provide pre-programmed dynamic control over printing variables, which enabled the fabrication of a variety of advanced material designs with applications in regenerative medicine. , tissue engineering and other fields.
The researchers documented the entire design and construction of a single MEW printing system with two nearly similar printers. One of the advanced features of these printers was the complete integration of all essential components, which gave the user full control over processing parameters and enabled the fabrication of a variety of biomaterial scaffold designs. MEW which were not present in the majority of commercial printers. systems available.
Detailed information on the development of the framing, printhead assembly, motion system, rotary chuck for tubular scaffolds, as well as full wiring and integration details of all these parts to a central control unit were provided.
Some of the key capabilities of these printers, such as the ability to print high-volume scaffolds with layer-by-layer tension control, nanoscale fiber printing, and hybrid printing capabilities, have been demonstrated. by combining both MEW additive manufacturing principles and fusion deposition modeling (FDM), fabrication of variable fiber diameter scaffolds via automated fiber stabilization and layer-by-layer extrusion pressure control , and printing complex geometries via Drawing Interchange Format (DXF) files, and then printing MEW tubular scaffolds.
It has been demonstrated that 20 μm diameter MEW fibers can be placed on 200 μm diameter FDM flames to create hybrid scaffolds using FDM printing. With 30 μm fibers deposited in one direction and 10 μm in another with a 90° offset, it was also demonstrated that varying fiber sizes could be defined by variations in pressure. When working with extremely stable polymers like PCL, it was found that having the barrel heating temperature about 5°C lower than the nozzle temperature produced a more consistent fiber than using equal or higher temperatures. The threshold above which an arc could potentially occur has been greatly increased by the much higher 24 kV/mm dielectric strength of Ketron PEEK compared to air.
A variety of applications in tissue engineering and beyond could be realized with the help of MEW, a powerful additive manufacturing technology that had great potential for producing complex micrometer-resolution scaffolds.
In conclusion, this study described how to design and build a unique MEW printer with state-of-the-art automation and manufacturing capabilities. The authors demonstrated the importance of the different systems used in an MEW printer and highlighted a number of alternatives and additional strategies that can be used depending on the particular needs of the end user.
By first educating those interested in creating similar custom devices and additionally giving potential and current practitioners in this developing field of additive manufacturing research an understanding of the inner workings of MEW technology, this work aims to increase the accessibility of MEW technology. .
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Eichholz, KF, Gonçalves, I., Barceló, X., et al. How to design, develop and build a fully integrated fusion electro-write 3D printer. Additive Manufacturing 102998 (2022). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214860422003918