Additive Manufacturing of Multi-Functional Composite Structures: Overview and Outlook

C.B. Williams
Virginia Tech,
United States

Keywords: additive manufacturing, nanocomposites


Additive Manufacturing’s layer-wise fabrication approach empowers engineers to selectively place (multiple-) materials to realize products that satisfy multiple functions and design objectives. However, to fully realize this potential, additive manufacturing (AM) processes are in need of further advancements in material selection and process capability. Recently, AM technologies have evolved to enable printing of composite materials to address these needs. From extrusion of large-scale composite tooling to directly printing continuous fiber composite structures with robotic arms, AM is showing potential for disrupting composite processing and significantly improving the overall performance of the resultant composite structures. In this talk, Prof. Williams will provide an overview of emerging composites additive manufacturing technologies and capabilities. In addition, highlights of the advanced composites processing capability enabled by Additive Manufacturing will be shared through a series of research vignettes including (i) 3D printing of drones from composite recycled materials, (ii) direct ink writing of highly-loaded functional inks, (iii) fabricating composite structures with embedded sensing and communications functionalities, and (iv) the use of multi-axis robotics to fabricate optimized composite structures.