Applied Viscous Thread Instability for Manufacturing 3D Printed Foams

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Emery, B.
Revier, D.L.
Lipton, J.I.

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University of Texas at Austin


Traditional foams are fabricated via stochastic chemical processes that yield homogeneous material properties. Foams can exhibit a wide range of material properties by varying process controls allowing them to be used in many industrial and commercial applications. Previously, additive manufacturing could only produce foam approximations in the form of traditional lattice infill. Our work employs viscous thread printing (VTP) of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) on a fused filament fabrication (FFF) printer, exploiting the semi-viscous nature of extruded filament to coil producing a new type of printed foam. Specimens were tested under compression to determine uniformity along principal axes and behavior under strain when compared to infill patterns, such as grid and cubic. This work establishes that VTP as applied to TPU can be used to manufacture programmable stiffness foams as a function of density, suited to a variety of needs and should be considered as an alternative to traditional foams and other printed lattice geometries.


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