Four-Dimensional Printing of Elastomer-Derived Ceramic Structures


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date7 Jun 2018


Four-dimensional (4D) printing involves conventional three-dimensional (3D) printing followed by a self-shaping assembly step. It enables more complex shapes to be created than is possible with conventional 3D printing, and shape-morphing capabilities can improve the adaptability of structural materials to versatile application environments. However, 3D-printed ceramic precursors are usually difficult to be deformed, hindering the development of 4D printing for ceramics. To overcome this limitation, we developed elastomeric nanocomposites (NCs) which can be printed, deformed, and then transformed into ceramic NCs, making the growth of complex 4D-printed ceramic structures possible. In addition, the printed ceramic precursors are soft, and can be stretched beyond 3 times their initial length. Hierarchical elastomer-derived ceramics (EDCs) could be achieved with programmable architectures spanning three orders of magnitude, from 200 µm to 10 cm. A compressive strength of 547 MPa is achieved on the microlattice at 1.6 g cm-3. This work starts a new chapter of printing geometrically complex and mechanically robust ceramics, and this concept is cost-efficient in term of time when a series of complex-shaped ceramics with similar geometries were required. With shape-morphing capabilities of elastomers, this work on 4D printing of EDCs could lead to structural applications of autonomous morphing structures, aerospace propulsion components, space exploration, electronic devices, and high-temperature microelectromechanical systems.