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Characterizing material transitions in large-scale Additive Manufacturing...

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Additive Manufacturing
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Integrating Multiple Materials (MM) into large-scale Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a key for various industrial applications wishing to incorporate site-specific properties into geometrically complex designs that are difficult to manufacture with traditional techniques. Printing with multiple materials is typically accomplished by using layers as natural material boundaries, but having the capability to switch between materials within a single layer without pausing would further expand MM possibilities. This study used Cincinnati Incorporated’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) system to explore material transitions with a novel dual-hopper that enables in-situ material blending of a pelletized feedstock. Constructing MM and functionally graded material (FGM) structures requires depositing a specific material composition at a specific geometric location to achieve a desired performance. Accurately implementing this with the BAAM’s blended extrusion system requires a thorough understanding of the transition between distinct material compositions. This study characterizes a step-change transition between neat acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and carbon fiber-reinforced ABS. Three distinct techniques were compared for analyzing the fiber content, and the transition zone between materials was characterized as a function of transition direction. The transition process was consistent to within 0.7 wt% carbon fiber variation between different layers and prints. The transition between materials was found to be directionally dependent, with ABS to CF/ABS having a transition length of 3.5 m compared to 3.2 m for CF/ABS to ABS. Furthermore, the transition from Material A to Material B was found to be repeatable with a possible variance in transition length of 0.3 m.