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Additive Manufacturing Techniques for Soft Electroactive Polymer Hydrogels Using a Customized 3D Printer

[+] Author Affiliations
Austen Thien, Kishore Pochiraju

Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ

Paper No. IMECE2017-72007, pp. V002T02A030; 8 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 2: Advanced Manufacturing
  • Tampa, Florida, USA, November 3–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5835-6
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Electroactive polymers (EAP) have shown promise in producing significant and controllable linear displacement in slim and lightweight packages. EAPs allow for seamless integration and multi-functionality since they are actuated by a driving voltage that could be controlled by a microprocessor. Polyacrylamide (PAAM)/Polyacrylic acid (PAA) hydrogel EAPs are commonly chosen due to their low driving voltage, significant amount of displacement, and rapid manufacturing capabilities, as these gels can be 3D printed. To effectively extrude these gels in 3D printers, their viscosity, gelation time, shear thinning, and self-wettability must be characterized. In this research, ungelled solutions of PAAM are prepared and then strain-tested at temperatures from 60C to 80C and with 1–2 drops of TEMED catalyst to determine the gelation time that is optimal for 3D printing. Strain testing of ungelled PAAM solutions is also used to determine the shear thinning propertie of the gel. All strain testing is conducted using a rheometer with 25 mm diameter plates and an oven enclosure. A prototype extrusion system is designed and fabricated to be used for self-wettability testing of the gel. The process data will then be used in the design of a modified 3D printer to manufacture and test different configurations of these hydrogel actuators.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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