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Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing of Self-Heating Molds...

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Additive Manufacturing
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Large-scale material extrusion additive manufacturing technology is becoming the new mainstream technology for scaled-up composite mold and die applications. This paradigm shift in composite processing technology is primarily driven by out-of-autoclave tooling applications, in which fiber reinforced composite molds with scaled-up sizes and embedded heating elements are attractive. The present research describes the design, manufacturing, and testing of self-heating composite molds fabricated via a large-scale pellet extrusion 3D printing machine with an integrated wire co-extrusion tool. Polycarbonate (PC) composites reinforced with carbon fiber (PC/CF; 20 wt.%) and glass fiber (PC/GF; 20 wt.%) were used to fabricate mold parts. Joule heating thermal test results showed that uniform temperatures (~100 °C) were achieved for both PC/CF and PC/GF mold surfaces, using a custom-made feedback control power supply and infrared thermography. Mechanical characterizations, including tensile and flexural testing were performed on the wire-embedded and un-wired PC/CF and PC/GF base specimens to investigate the impact of the fiber reinforcement as well as the embedded wires. In the direction of extrusion, the ultimate tensile stress of PC/CF was 105 MPa, and that of PC/GF was 73 MPa, while the neat PC value was 64 MPa. Inner-bead voids and interfacial gaps were observed and characterized via optical and scanning electron microscopy. The embedded wires and inner bead impacted the mechanical properties of the composites. However, the stiffness of the wire-embedded mold was still satisfactory, proving that the technology can be used to fabricate additively manufactured out-of-oven/autoclave molds.