Robot-aided selective embedding of a spatially steered fiber in polymer composite parts made using vat photopolymerization

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Date

2023

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University of Texas at Austin

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Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composite (FRPC) parts are predominantly laminates, shells, or surfaces wound with 2+D fiber patterns even after the emergence of additive manufacturing. Making FRPC parts with embedded continuous fibers in 3D is not reported previously even though topology optimization demonstrates that such designs are optimal. Earlier attempts in 3D fiber reinforcement include making parts with channels into which fibers are inserted or coextruding fiber with resin. In this work, A Vat-Photopolymerization Machine, and a process for concurrent embedding of spatially steered continuous fibers inside the matrix is developed. A single continuous fiber was embedded spatially using a robot to gradually steer the fiber as the part is built layer upon layer. An example of a fiber embedded along a helix in a cylindrical matrix is included in this work. Furthermore, a hinge effect was demonstrated when a fiber was embedded at a place that has substantial bending about the axis of the fiber.

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