Material extrusion (ME) 3D printing is a revolutionary technique for manufacturing thermoplastic parts; however, the printed parts typically suffer from poor interlayer bonding, which causes weak tensile strength in the build direction. Many methods have been proposed to address the mechanical deficiencies of 3D-printed parts, but most fall short of a production-ready solution. Here we report the use of a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma electrode mounted concentrically around the nozzle of an ME 3D printer for in situ welding of thermoplastic parts. This is the first report of a DBD being used as a non-contact means to induce Joule heating in resistive composite materials. The polymer welding process is accomplished by coupling the DBD with the carbon nanotube-loaded interfaces between the 3D-printed layers. The current passing through the part results in rapid resistive heating of the nanotubes and thermal welding of the interfaces. We show that parts printed with this method have isotropic strength and are equivalent to their injection-molded counterparts.
- Additive Manufacturing3d PrintingPlasmaCarbon NanotubeComposite