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Published Online: 1 March 2018

Production Techniques for 3D Printed Inflatable Elastomer Structures: Part I—Fabricating Air-Permeable Forms and Coating with Inflatable Silicone Membranes via Spray Deposition

Publication: 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing
Volume 5, Issue Number 1

Abstract

This article is the first in a two-part series describing a process for conformal three-dimensional (3D) printing on to inflatable substrates. Details for fabricating seamless, tubular elastomeric membranes by spray deposition on a double-curved air-permeable mandrel are presented in Part I. The mandrels are created by casting gypsum into a desired form, and they are made permeable by applying pressurized air to the central core of the gypsum body during its crystallization phase. The membranes—in this case made from silicone—are created by spray deposition onto the mandrel by using a constant surface angular velocity approach. These membranes are inflated so as to impart mechanical pre-strain in the rubber by stretching. The techniques described are particularly suited to the fabrication of 3D printed pneumatic artificial muscles and dielectric elastomer actuators. They can also be used to create removable substrates on which a 3D print can be extruded, or alternatively integrated into a four-dimensional print where varying levels of mechanical strain can be distributed through the various printed layers. Uses for the techniques described include soft robotics, stretchable electronics, biomechanical implants, and custom bioreactors, particularly when combined with direct ink writing techniques.

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Published In

cover image 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing
3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing
Volume 5Issue Number 1March 2018
Pages: 5 - 16

History

Published in print: March 2018
Published online: 1 March 2018

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Authors

Affiliations

Fergal B. Coulter
Medical Device Design Group, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
Complex Materials, Department of Materials, ET H Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Brian S. Coulter
Soils and Analytical Services Department, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle Research Centre, Wexford, Ireland.
Jason R. Marks
Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth, United Kingdom.
Anton Ianakiev
Department of Civil Engineering, School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Notes

Opposite page: Three silicone rings extruded on to a sprayed silicone balloon, which is then inflated. Photo credit: Fergal Coulter.
Address correspondence to:Fergal B. CoulterMedical Device Design GroupDepartment of Mechanical and Materials EngineeringUniversity College DublinBelfieldDublin 4Ireland
E-mail: [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

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