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Modeling of pneumatic valve dispenser for printing viscous biomaterials in additive manufacturing

Xiang Ren (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Qingwei Zhang (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Kewei Liu (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Ho-lung Li (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Jack G. Zhou (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 20 October 2014

953

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is establishing a general mathematical model and theoretical design rules for 3D printing of biomaterials. Additive manufacturing of biomaterials provides many opportunities for fabrication of complex tissue structures, which are difficult to fabricate by traditional manufacturing methods. Related problems and research tasks are raised by the study on biomaterials’ 3D printing. Most researchers are interested in the materials studies; however, the corresponded additive manufacturing machine is facing some technical problems in printing user-prepared biomaterials. New biomaterials have uncertainty in physical properties, such as viscosity and surface tension coefficient. Therefore, the 3D printing process requires lots of trials to achieve proper printing parameters, such as printing layer thickness, maximum printing line distance and printing nozzle’s feeding speed; otherwise, the desired computer-aided design (CAD) file will not be printed successfully in 3D printing.

Design/methodology/approach

Most additive manufacturing machine for user-prepared bio-material use pneumatic valve dispensers or extruder as printing nozzle, because the air pressure activated valve can print many different materials, which have a wide range of viscosity. We studied the structure inside the pneumatic valve dispenser in our 3D heterogeneous printing machine, and established mathematical models for 3D printing CAD structure and fluid behaviors inside the dispenser during printing process.

Findings

Based on theoretical modeling, we found that the bio-material’s viscosity, surface tension coefficient and pneumatic valve dispenser’s dispensing step time will affect the final structure directly. We verified our mathematical model by printing of two kinds of self-prepared biomaterials, and the results supported our modeling and theoretical calculation.

Research limitations/implications

For a certain kinds of biomaterials, the mathematical model and design rules will have unique solutions to the functions and equations. Therefore, each biomaterial’s physical data should be collected and input to the model for specified solutions. However, for each user-made 3D printing machine, the core programming code can be modified to adjust the parameters, which follows our mathematical model and the related CAD design rules.

Originality

This study will provide a universal mathematical method to set up design rules for new user-prepared biomaterials in 3D printing of a CAD structure.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for the support from National Science Foundation (NSF) on award number CMMI-0700139. The authors would also like to thank Dr Moses Noh’s Lab-On-Chip & BioMEMS Lab and Dr Ying Sun’s Complex Fluids and Multiphase Transport Lab for their equipment usage.

Citation

Ren, X., Zhang, Q., Liu, K., Li, H.-l. and Zhou, J.G. (2014), "Modeling of pneumatic valve dispenser for printing viscous biomaterials in additive manufacturing", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 20 No. 6, pp. 434-443. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-03-2013-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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