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Polymer Physics In Additive Manufacturing

Peter Olmsted Department of Physics, Georgetown University

Numerous methods of Additive Manufacturing make use of polymeric materials ; examples include fused filament fabrication (FFF), selective laser sintering/melting, and bioprinting of hydrogels. These processes and their materials present many opportunities for obtaining a deeper understanding and insight into process and material design through the polymer physics of the processes. I will focus primarily on some of the challenges of FFF, and address whether and how we can understand why parts printed with this common process are often mechanically very weak, and what can potentially be done to enhance these processes. In FFF flows, relaxation, and solidification of entangled polymers under rapid cooling and heating conditions intertwine to yield the final printed parts. I will also touch on some interesting physics issues that arise in other polymer-based AM fabrication methods.