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Additive Manufacturing of Multifunctional Polymer Networks

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A versatile approach to designing 3D printable, re-processable dynamic covalent polymer networks with tunable mechanical properties is reported. The approach involves synthesis of epoxy-based building blocks of controllable length which are then reversibly cross-linked using a dynamic reaction. This material demonstrates several features which are beneficial to additive manufacturing, such as reversible dissociation to a liquid at elevated temperatures and fast curing and solidification during fused deposition modeling. Moreover, the reactivity of the material improves inter-layer adhesion of printed parts, leading to mechanical performance comparable to traditional cast-molded parts. The dynamic nature of the polymer network enables self-healing properties at room temperature and underwater and shows a unique shape memory behavior. This work provides insight into the additive manufacturing of structural cross-linked polymers and shows promising results for implementation intro structural applications. In addition, this work shows the viability of introducing multi-functionality into printed parts.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe a useful method to design cross-linked polymers for 3D printing of structural parts
  • Identify current limitations in 3D printing using thermoplastics
  • Identify opportunities to expand the 3D printing envelope and advance the current state of polymer additive manufacturing