The Keck Center is investigating ways to improve the materials that are used to create models and prototypes. One of our recent investigations involved adding carbon nanotubes to photocurable resins to see if we could improve the physical properties of the material. Improving resins and other materials will help open the door for new and unique rapidly manufactured functional devices.

The use of polymers and AM technologies enables the production of parts intended for applications ranging from automobile components to biomedical implants. A wide variety of material systems are available such as ULTEM (a high performance thermoplastic with excellent strength-to-weight ratio) and polyethylene glycol (a biocompatible and potentially biodegradable polymer). Common AM technologies that process polymers include fused deposition modeling (FDM), stereolithography (SL), and laser sintering (LS) – all technologies contained in the Keck Center’s broad collection of AM machines.

The use of Electron Beam Melting is enabling metallic structures that are otherwise impossible to fabricate including meshes and foam as shown below.