Thermoset Composite having Thermoplastic Characteristics

UT-Battelle, LLC, acting under its Prime Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the management and operation of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is seeking a commercialization partner for an invention that produces thermoset composite optimized for 3D-printing technology. The ORNL Technology Transfer Office will be accepting licensing applications through October 14, 2016.

The inventors at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including Drs. Soydan Ozcan, Halil Tekinalp and Vlastimil Kunc, have develop a thermoset composite optimized for 3D-printing technology. Currently almost all raw material for polymer 3D printing is thermoplastics, despite the fact they lack chemical resistance, thermal stability, and mechanical performance. The composite material developed at ORNL enables thermoset materials, that are more thermal stable, chemical resistant, and better mechanical performance, to be processed by methods similar to thermoplastics.  The technology enables the precursor polymer material to have a dimensional stability and integrity via the addition of nanocellulose fibrils (CNF). Once mixed with the liquid or the resin, the CNF pieces absorbs the resin, and holds the material together with molecular forces. Provided that proper mixing is realized, these resins containing CNF micro sponges form a network giving the material a dimensional stability and integrity for 3D printing. The elastic modulus of these materials is significantly higher than ABS, the composition has a broad viscosity range wherein the material is printable, and we expect that for printing molds the technology could be 3 times more cost effective.

This invention opens new windows of opportunity in thermoset polymer processing and composite preparation including but not limited to the following:  injection molding, 3D printing, and compression molding. Moreover, the invention enables fused deposition modeling or 3D printing of thermoset resins, depositing a dimensionally stable bead, possibly at room temperature, as well as improving Z-strength of articles made thereby.

Advantages of this material system over thermoplastics include:

  • UV curing is not needed while printing;
  • Can be modified for different thermoset resins;
  • No layer to lay adhesion issue;
  • Higher mechanical strength;
  • Scalable for large area applications.

This invention opens up new windows of opportunities in poly  er processing and composite preparation. It will enable, thermoset materials to be processed similar to thermoplastics. Also, it will enable fused deposition modeling or 3D printing of thermoset resins depositing a dimensionally stable bead. It will possibly help room temperature 3D printing, as well as improved z-strength. Our scientist believe this may be the world’s first 3D printable thermoset composite.

This technology was originally developed using federal funds and selected for further development under the laboratory’s Technology Innovation Program (TIP). TIP supports technology development using royalties from existing technology licenses to accelerate the market readiness of high potential technologies.

License applications will be evaluated based on prospective partners’ ability and commitment to successfully commercialize the technology. If a license is executed, the ORNL researchers developing the technology will be eligible to compete for additional TIP funding to further advance the technology.

Please contact Eugene Cochran, Sr. Commercialization Manager, Technology Commercialization, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 865.576.2830,  with any questions and/or to obtain a license application for this opportunity.

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