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Development of Antimicrobial Polymer-Metal Composites via Additive Manufacturing Methods

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This paper presents the efforts of developing novel polymer-metal composites with antimicrobial effect over a long span. The project was executed in two phases. Phase one was conducted by 3D printing a small coin with a low-infill rate in ABS plastic, stopping the print job after each layer, and spraying a solution containing a modifier into the coin. Solutions of acetone containing 0.25M of silver nitrate, copper nitrate and cobalt nitrate were prepared. The second phase was based on mechanical alloying of the ABS material with a powder form of the modifier including stainless steel, copper, and iron oxide, and then extruding the mixture to create a smooth filament of the composite material, free of defects. The filament was 3D printed into a hollow insert. Phase two also included use of UV and bleach to sterilize the inserts used in testing. Both phases included testing with E.coli exhibiting notable antimicrobial activity. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand structure and chemical make-up of additive manufacturing composites with antimicrobial effect.
  • Understand the design and development process of polymer/metal composites.
  • Understand development of custom medical/biomedical tools made with additive manufacturing.