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AM of Multifunctional Composite Structures: Rapid Tooling and Conformal Deposition of Conductive Inks

A small multi-axis robotic arm holds a syringe and prepares to conformally extrude material onto a dome
A small silver strain gauge

Project Overview

Additively printed electronics have recently generated great interest in recent years due to the comparatively simple and inexpensive nature of the printing process as well as the compatibility between printed electronics and flexible or conformal substrates. One area of particular interest, as determined by the DoD, is additively manufactured multifunctional composites. A multifunctional composite is typically a continuous fiber-reinforced polymer composite (CFRP) laminate that provides additional functionality beyond the materials structure. Additional functionalities are typically electromagnetic in nature and can include sensing, communication, or electromagnetic interference protection. 

The Dreams Lab has collaborated with the Hume Center for National Security and Technology at Virginia Tech to investigate integrating printed electronics with CFRP structures to demonstrate novel methods for multifunctional composite fabrication. This collaboration is currently investigating conformal deposition strategies for conductive inks as well as additively produced composite tooling.

Research Lead

Jake Viar