Innovative Design Strategies in Additive Manufacturing Techniques for Improved Security, Manufacturability, and Product Functionality

Sponsor: NYU Global Seed Grant Initiative (2016-2019)

Advancements in digital manufacturing have made it possible for a product to be designed in computer aided design software (CAD), analyzed and optimized using finite element software (FEA), and transmitted to a computerized additive manufacturing (AM) machine such as a 3D printer. This completely digital process chain has several vulnerabilities as documented recently in government reports and research articles. These vulnerabilities include incorrect final product dimensions or properties due to the modular approach to the design, analysis and printing stages; theft through computer or network hacking; or loss of information during various iterations of prototype printing and designing. In this project, we intend to explore a number of possibilities that can compromise the final product made through AM methods. The main objectives of this project are to:

  • Understand the limitations of CAD software and the current generation of 3D printers, and their impact on the final product
  • Develop new strategies for 3D printing parts that challenge these limitations (e.g. microscale features, micropatterned surfaces)
  • Use the software and process limitations for developing security features against intellectual property theft.

Develop of a software for design of multifunctional syntactic foams

Sponsor: Private Industry (04/2016-12/2017)

Syntactic foams are hollow particle filled lightweight polymer matrix composites. The applications of syntactic foams have been rapidly increasing in the recent years and the examples include submarine and ship structures, aircraft structural components, deep sea oil exploration pipe insulation, and plugs used in thermoforming. PI has recently proposed a novel method to simultaneously modulate mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of syntactic foams, which is now patent pending through NYU: Development of multifunctionality in syntactic foams by simultaneous tailoring of dielectric constant, coefficient of thermal expansion, and density. Patent filed on July 27, 2013, N. Gupta and V. C. Shunmugasamy. (Application # 20150031793). The proposed effort in this project will be focused on using this new method to develop a software (BrooklynFoam) that can be used by industry and researchers to design syntactic foams with a pre-determined set of properties. Development of a user friendly software will help them in designing the syntactic foams by selecting appropriate raw materials and their proportions. The project will include development of a web enabled software for the benefit of a wide range of people interested in syntactic foam design. Front end web interface, back end database, and calculation engine will be developed in the project.

Shock and vibration modeling of marine composites

Sponsor: Office of Naval Research (2009-2017)

The research plan in this project is focused on developing a fundamental understanding of advanced marine composites to Navy relevant extreme loading conditions, such as underwater, in-air, and combined blast loading, vibrations, and impact. The proposed research program envisions the development of instrumentation and test methods, fabrication of composite materials, characterization of mechanical properties, and science based modeling of advanced composites. The research focus of the study will be sandwich composites, comprising cellular core and fiber reinforced laminated skins, because of their increasing use in marine structures. Hollow particle filled polymer matrix composites called syntactic foams are the main focus of the study for use as core materials in sandwich composites.

Development of Zn-alloys Syntactic Composite Foams

Sponsor: National Science Foundation (2014-2017)

This project is focused on developing Zn-alloy composite foams comprising hollow particles. High density of Zn-alloys is a limitation in several applications and lightweight composite foams can help in expanding the existing applications. Use of fly ash cenospheres as hollow particles will help in utilization of this industrial waste material and reduce the price of the composite. The study will be focused on developing a low cost synthesis method for Zn-alloy composite foam, characterize the synthesized composites for a wide variety of loading conditions, and study the failure mechanisms. The synthesis work will attempt to produce composites containing high volume fraction of fly ash cenospheres (up to 50 vol.%). The characterization will include compressive, tensile, vibration, impact, and high strain rate compressive testing of materials. Numerical simulations will be conducted on the composite foam microstructure to obtain an estimate of the mechanical properties.  

Advanced Multiscale Lightweight Protective Materials

Sponsor: Army Research Laboratory (2009-2016)

The safety related aim of the vehicle structures and body armors is to absorb damage and protect the humans present inside them. This project plans to study the damage mitigation mechanisms in advanced lightweight composite materials and develop multiscale material systems with higher level of protective capabilities. Lightweight structural materials such as magnesium and their composite materials will be extensively studied over a wide range of strain rates and loading conditions. The characterization will span from nanoscale to macroscale in order to understand the structure-property correlations. Experimental, numerical, and theoretical research will be conducted to understand the fundamental aspects of the material behavior that will guide the development of next generation protective materials. 

Advanced Lightweight Magnesium Matrix Composites for Automotive Applications

Sponsor: Department of Energy SBIR Phase I (2014-2015)

Light weight ceramic hollow spheres-filled metal alloy syntactic foams have potential to replace heavy metal structures used in load bearing structural applications.  These syntactic foams have a combination of low density and high strength, modulus, and damage tolerance. Aluminum/hollow ceramic composite is the most commonly investigated system for light weight applications. Magnesium, the lower density structural metal, can replace aluminum for further reduction in weight. In the proposed Phase I project, novel syntactic foams based on magnesium alloys filled with high strength ceramic hollow spheres and tubes will be prepared and their mechanical properties as a function of fillers will be investigated. Phase II will involve scaling up the technology for applying the selective composite material(s) to passenger and commercial vehicles.