Plastics engineering students use new process to create 3D printing filaments

Western Today staff

Students in the Plastics and Composites Engineering program at Western Washington University have been using a special process this quarter to aid in 3D printing.

Using an additive called POSS, students Kacey Lloyd, Mervin Lessley and Andrew Colebrook spent their time in PCE 431 manufacturing nanocomposite 3D-printing filaments. The project involved students learning about the additive, its compatibility with certain plastics and how to blend the additive and plastic together.

The manufacturer of POSS, Hybrid, donated over $1,000 dollars of materials to the program in the hopes of educating the next generation of engineers about nanotechnologies and the challenges with manufacturing materials and products from them.

John Misasi, assistant professor in the Plastics and Composites Engineering program, first encountered POSS while completing his doctoral work at The University of Southern Mississippi, near where Hybrid is based.

“In this particular class, students learn how to use a twin screw extruder and run a series Design of Experiments to manufacture POSS and thermoplastic nanocomposite filaments,” said Misasi in a Hybrid press release. “These DOE will also quantify the effects of processing parameters on the dispersion of POSS, understand solubility and compatibility of POSS molecules and fabricate test specimens to characterize mechanical properties.”

Hybrid President Joe Lichtenhan said in the release that the collaboration adds value to both the individual students in WWU’s program, as well as to the broader mission of fostering widespread work with POSS.

“By working with POSS, students will learn the practical benefits of using chemical additives,” said Lichtenhan. “By exposing them to this kind of nanotechnology now, I believe we will continue cultivating a new generation of problem solvers in many different industries.”

Polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane, known as POSS, is a nano-structural chemical that bridges the gap between ceramic and organic materials to form a single molecular composition. POSS improves product performance of standard product additives. POSS can be altered to give the molecule certain functionalities that are beneficial in a variety of industries.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - 10:54am
WWU students worked with the additive POSS to create 3D printing filaments winter quarter. Image courtesy of Hybrid.

WWU students worked with the additive POSS to create 3D printing filaments winter quarter. Image courtesy of Hybrid.