SHAPE FORMING PROCESS AND APPLICATION THEREOF FOR CREATING STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS AND DESIGNED OBJECTS
A tool provided that individually creates three-dimensional structural elements which are sequentially positioned into formation of a shaped object.
This application claims benefit of priority to Provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 61/905,052, filed Nov. 15, 2013; the aforementioned priority application being hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.TECHNICAL FIELD
Embodiments described herein relate generally to a shape forming process, and more specifically, to a shape forming process and application thereof for creating structural elements and designed objects.BACKGROUND
Composites refer generally to a heterophase material containing a binder and a solid. A growing class of structural composites consist of an organic polymer binder or “resin” and a fiber, typically composed of glass, carbon, or natural. In some variations, the fiber can be formed from metal. The fiber is in the form of a filament (continuous or chopped), narrow strips of woven cloth, a bundle or roving, a braid, or made into strips or “tape”. The structural composites industry is growing because of the desire for light weight—high stiffness materials for industries ranging from aerospace to recreational equipment. Composite materials are typically formed into shape via pre-formed molds that are costly and add to the development cycle time. Typically the steps required to build a composite part include: 1) design part, 2) make prototype part or [positive image], 3) make mold [negative image], 4) add release agent to mold, 5) add resin and fiber, 6) cure resin, 7) remove final part, and 8) clean or discard mold. These steps consume unnecessary time, materials, and waste adding to the cost of composite parts.
Some embodiments include a system and method for creating a shaped or designed object by way of forming three-dimensional structural elements.
In one embodiment, a tool for creating a shaped three-dimensional structure includes a resin delivery mechanism, fiber source, a curation mechanism, and a controller. The fiber source may provide fiber that is concentrically combined with the resin. A curation mechanism cures the resin and/or fiber at a given position of a target location. A controller manipulates the resin and/or fiber into a desired shape, while the curation mechanism cures the resin and/or fiber in position.
A three-dimensional shaped element is an element that is shaped in place with no support structure, i.e. support, substrate, or mold that acts as a solid support to provide structure during the curing process. When a polymer is cured it transitions from a liquid or semi-solid to a rigid material and during that transition goes through a liquid or rubbery transition wherein it cannot support structure. In this invention the automated motion of the dispensing head provides the “structure” to shape in free-space while curing the pre-polymer material.
A four-dimensional shaped element is an element that is shaped in three-dimensions plus an added function that is shaped in place, for example, electrical wiring, circuitry, or conductivity. Other examples would be thermal conductivity or optical pathways.
According to some embodiments, a three-dimensionally shaped printing or wiring board is provided which includes a physical shape that has curvature and is formed from individually created structural elements. As an addition or alternative, some embodiments include an electronic device that is formed in free space without a solid shaped support.
Still further, some embodiments include a process, or tool for implementing a process, in which a three-dimensional object is formed in free space. A tool can implement a process of (i) delivering a precise amount of liquid resin with fiber, positioning the liquid resin coated fiber in X, Y, Z space, (ii) using curation by radiation or other energy source to solidify the resin-fiber composite, thereby locking the position of the material while delivering liquid resin and moving the position of the coated fiber. In some variations, the cured coated fiber is cut with a mechanical cutting mechanism or a laser.
In some embodiments, a tool is provided for creating a shaped object from combining three-dimensional structures. The tool includes a resin delivery mechanism, a fiber source, an energy source, and a controller. The resin delivery mechanism is positioned to deposit liquefied resin to a given target location. The fiber source supplies a fiber to the given target location. An energy source positioned to provide energy to resin deposited and cured at the target location. The energy source can be selected to be sufficient to liquefy the tip portion. A controller positions curation of the deposited resin at the target location, so that with manipulation of the fiber at the given location, the resin is structured into a three-dimensional structural element of a larger body.
According to some variations, the fiber source includes a fiber guide that can control movement of the fiber at the target location along S-axes. The fiber guide can include a three-dimensional control mechanism for manipulating the fiber at the target location along 3-axes and 1 or more rotational axis. By way of example, the fiber is one or more of a monofilament, fiber bundle, ribbon, film, or tape.
Still further, in some variations, a knife or laser is used to cut the structural element after curing. The act of cutting and/or curing can be used to further shape the object being formed from the structural elements.
By way of example, embodiments described herein can be used to create shaped objects (or portions thereof), including body armor, prosthetics, personalized glasses or eyewear, handles or custom grips for an assortment of devices (guns, knives, hammers, game controllers, tennis racquets etc.), boats, sleds, skis, snowboards, furniture, chairs, stools, planets, racks, signs (including signs with electronic circuitry which can utilize conductive fibers or powder-infused resins), custom fiber optics or lights, and custom boxes and packaging equipment.
In an embodiment, tool 100 includes a delivery mechanism 110 that couples resin with fiber to form a structural element. In more detail, tool 100 includes a robotic arm 104 optionally provided on an X-Y positioning stage 106 (e.g., rotatable stage) (as shown the robotic arm is not on the X-Y positioning stage or rotatable stage, the sample being formed is on a rotatable stage) to provide a three-plus axis positioning system. The arm 104 can pivot about one or more hinges 114 to enable a variety of motion and degrees of freedom. The arm can be provided on a platform 130, which serves to support and retain the arm 104, as well as other components such as the positioning stage 106. The positioning stage 106 can in turn support retention and shaping of an object being formed, such as a shaped structural composite part, circuit board or electrical element.
In one embodiment, the delivery mechanism 110 includes structures to separately deliver resin and fiber 107 onto a target 111. The resin delivery structure 105 can deliver a pre-determined amount of resin from a resin source through a conduit 115 to a region of the target. By way of example, resin delivery structure 105 can include a metering pump, such as a syringe pump, peristaltic pump, gear pump, or progressive cavity pump. A pump, for example, can deliver resin in liquid form to a head 109 that deposits a resin portion onto a substrate provided at the target region 111. The head 109 can be heated and/or vibrating to maintain a minimum viscosity of the resin. The head 109 can be cylindrical, flat, round or elongated, depending on the desired resin “drop” characteristic and material.
An example of
In some variations, the fiber guide 122 can also include an optional cutting tool such as a mechanical knife or laser for when the resin/fiber is cured an during the process of forming an element or finished part. The cutting can, for example, terminate the structural element in dimension, or shape or contour the structural element.
In one embodiment, the resin is delivered by the resin delivery structure 105 into the fiber guide 122 at the target location 111. In one implementation, a curing process is performed which cures the liquid resin in place (e.g., over the frame 121). The curing process can utilize, for example, a visible or ultraviolet Light (UV) light source. As an alternative or addition, the curing process can utilize a radiation source to induce heat from infrared radiation, and the resin can be thermally cured. Examples of suitable resins include monomers with acrylate, epoxide, or vinyl reactive groups and resin formulations include thermally induced free-radical, UV photoinitiators or cationic UV photoinitiators. Optionally, the radiation source can induce heat, for example from infrared radiation, and the resin can be thermally cured. Among other achievements, an embodiment provides that the resin combines intimately with the fiber after contact with the fiber 107 and then quickly becomes a solid or semi-solid after start of the curing event. In order to minimize curing shrinkage that can occur with polymerization blends of acrylate and epoxy, functional resins can be combined with mixtures of free-radical photoinitiators and cationic photoinitiators. Also UV curable resins containing vinyl, acrylate, or epoxy groups can be combined with resins containing moisture or thermally curable groups such as isocyanates.
An example of
In another variation, the fiber 217 and resin can be combined into one conduit for delivery onto the target region 211. For example, with reference to
In an embodiment, controller 300 includes a design interface 310, a simulation interface 315, a resin/fiber control 320, curation control 330, and guidance 340. The resin/fiber control 320 can be implemented in a manner such as described with an example of
The design interface 310 can receive design input 302, which can specify structural physical and/or electrical characteristics of a desired object, such as a printed circuit board, a shaped circuit board, or a prosthetic limb. The design parameters 302 can also specify structure elements, including a desired size and/or shape of a structural element. The simulation interface 315 can simulate the expected physical properties and optimize to meet design targets such as stiffness, break strength, or electrical pathways. The feedback provided through the simulation interface 315 can be based on known structural and mechanical properties of the resin and fiber, taking into account the overall thickness of the aggregation of structural elements used and the shape of the formed object. The simulation interface 315 can operate to provide feedback to the design interface to make necessary improvements, such as optimizations to the design. As described with other examples, structure elements can be sequentially formed and combined using the tool 100, so as to form the desired object.
Based on the design input 302, design interface 310 can generate parameters for forming structural elements. Furthermore, the design interface 310 can generate a free space coordinate and dimension corresponding to the three-dimensional object that is to be formed. Based on the determinations, the design interface 310 can signal element coordinates 311 to resin/fiber control 320, curation control 330 and guidance 340. The element coordinates 311 identify discrete locations in three-dimensional space in a region of the target. The guidance 340 can implement discrete and precision movement 341 of the robotic arm, for example, so that, the resin/fiber delivery mechanism can deposit and cure resin at specified coordinates in a sequential manner. The sequential placement of the resin and its curation at discrete locations can, for example, result in the formation of shaped strands or linear segments that form the structural element, and combination strands which collectively form the shaped object. As described with other examples, the structural elements (e.g., strands) can be shaped through fiber manipulation, curation, placement of resin, and/or cutting.
In more detail, the resin/fiber control 320 can receive the element coordinates 311 and implement processes to produce a shaped structural element at the target location. In particular, the resin fiber control 320 can generate control parameters for the output and use of the resin and fiber combination. The parameters can include a resin flow 321 parameter, which specifies the volumetric flow rate of resin at individual discrete locations, specified by the coordinates 311. Another parameter that can be specified is fiber manipulation 323, which specifies a geometric shape, dimension or set of dimensions for geometry of the structural element being formed. Still further, the resin/fiber control 320 can generate a parameter position 325, identifying in orientation and/or pinpoint location of a particular structure element to be formed, a view of coordinates 311. Likewise, the curation control 330 can generate a curation parameter 333, which can specify an output power, a temperature (if heat source is being used) or radiative power if a light source is being used, intensity, and/or duration of the curing energy source on the resin fiber combination.
The movement control 341 provided by the guidance 340 can correspond to a sequential traversal of coordinates in a defined three-dimensional space of an object under formation. In this way, the coordinates 311 can identify a sequence of coordinates where a structural element is formed by deposit of resin/fiber, followed by curing.
In some variations, a cutter control mechanism 350 can also be provided to control a cutting mechanism (e.g., cutting tool 230 of an example of
In some variations, fiber manipulation control 432 can also be provided for use with a fiber manipulation mechanism (see e.g., fiber manipulation tip 123 of an example of
Structural Element Examples
With further reference to an example of
The resin 602 can be formed from, for example, an organic polymer binder or blend, including resin formulations that include free-radical UV photoinitiators or cationic UV photoinitiators. Still further, in some variations the resin includes conductive material or powder. Still further, the resin can include metal particles that are sintered with a laser.
With reference to
With reference to
As deposited, the resin is shaped into the desired geometry (720). In one embodiment, the resin can be shaped by the fiber, which provides an exterior force. In a variation, the fiber can be provided with the resin and the fiber can provide an interior force for shaping the resulting resin/fiber combination. Accordingly, under one implementation, the fiber can be manipulated to shape the deposited resin. The desired geometry can be pre-selected based on, for example, material characteristics of the resin and/or desired characteristics of the structural element.
In order to enable shaping, the resin (or resin/fiber) can be cured into solid form (730). The curation can occur near instantly after the resin (or resin/fiber) is deposited. The result is the formation of a structural element comprising a material having a rigid and stable three-dimensional shape, formed in part by curing the material from a liquid state in free space. The material of the structural element can be homogeneous (e.g., resin only) or heterogeneous (e.g., resin with fiber and/or conductive particles).
A structural element of
A result of
The conductive material and the non-conductive material can be deposited using the same robot and head or different head or robot. The conductive traces could also be formed by depositing metal particles as a powder or in a binder and sintered using a laser.Examples
With reference to examples provided above, the tool 100 can be implemented as 3-axis machine with 3 stepper motors and a microcontroller. In such an example, the robotic arm 104 can, for example, enable movement of about 6 inches in Z-direction, and 18 inches in x and y directions.
The fiber source can correspond to, for example, a reel of S-glass fiber roving purchased from AGY CORORATION (provided under the product name of ZENTRON758-AB-675)
In some variations, a glass roving can be created by pulling a bobbin and pushed through a tube into a feedblock. The individual fiber can be around 10-20 microns in diameter and the roving can be around 0.5 mm in diameter The glass roving can be pulled/pushed in a controlled metering fashion using a stepper motor driven soft wheel and a steel bearing. Simultaneously a resin delivery mechanism can be implemented using a UV curable liquid resin, which can be metered to a feedblock using a syringe pump. A fiber coated with resin can be around 1 mm in diameter when cured.
One resin formulation that can be used includes 20 grams of SR494 liquid resin (ethoxylated pentaerythritol tetraacrylate), provided by the SARTOMER of the ARKEMA GROUP, 20 grams of CN2101E liquid resin (ethoxylated epoxy acrylate) also provided by the SARTOMER of the ARKEMA GROUP, 0.1 grams of Irgacure 819 (UV photoinitiator from BASF CORPORATION), mixed with spatula until the photoinitiator is dissolved in the liquid resin. The liquid resin was loaded into a syringe pump and pumped at the rate of 0.25 ml/minute into a feed block. An S-Glass roving (758-AB-675 from AGY CORPORATION) consisting of multiple individual 15 micron glass fibers can be pushed into the feed block using a stepper motor driving with a soft urethane foam wheel against a steel bearing.
The resin coated glass fiber roving can be UV cured into place with an OmniCure 2000 UV/Visible spot curing system from EXFO CORPORATION operated at partial power.
With further reference to examples provided above, a 3-axis stage with the feed block mounted to the head can be moved at approximately 600 mm/minute in a shaping pattern while the glass roving is pushed into the feed block at approximately the same rate, and while the liquid resin is pumped into the feed block to coat the resin at approximately 0.25 ml/min. The Omnicure 2000 spot curing light can be positioned to cure the fiber/resin as it exited the feedblock to form a shape. The diameter of the glass roving is approximately 0.15 mm and the diameter of the finished cured polymer coated glass roving is approximately 0.9 mm. The final cured polymer-glass composite is very stiff and not easily bendable.
As another example, multiple separate glass rovings can be twisted separately in one direction through twisting. The rovings can be twisted together in a counter-rotating direction to give a diameter of 0.3 mm. Liquid resin can be pumped onto the twisted rovings at about 0.6 ml/min, resulting in the final diameter of the fiber-resin element being about 1.5 mm.
As another example, three or more glass fibers or rovings can be braided together to for combination with liquid resin. Optionally, the liquid resin could be heated and pumped warm to control viscosity and also increase the cured speed.
In some implementations, the resin can be cured with Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) that emit light in the UV region (e.g., 380 to 420 nm wavelength range).
Embodiments described herein can be implemented with any electronic device, including electronic devices that can be custom sized/shaped (e.g., wearable electronic devices). Embodiments described herein can also be implemented as part of customized recreational equipment (i.e. protective gear), prosthetic devices and electronic devices. Also custom body panels for cars, support brackets, chairs, frames, and other structural members could be formed. Examples described herein can also incorporate sections that are rigid and sections that are flexible.
Although illustrative embodiments have been described in detail herein with reference to the accompanying drawings, variations to specific embodiments and details are encompassed by this disclosure. It is intended that the scope of embodiments described herein be defined by claims and their equivalents. Furthermore, it is contemplated that a particular feature described, either individually or as part of an embodiment, can be combined with other individually described features, or parts of other embodiments. Thus, absence of describing combinations should not preclude the inventor(s) from claiming rights to such combinations.
1. A structural element that is uniformly integrated with other structures to form a designed structure, the structural element comprising a material having a rigid and stable three-dimensional shape that is formed by a) coating a liquid resin onto a fiber, and b) curing the liquid resin and fiber from a liquid state to a solid state.
2. The structural element of claim 1, wherein the structural element is formed by inserting the fiber into the resin, and then shaping the fiber and resin before curing the resin and fiber.
3. The structural element of claim 1, wherein the structural element is formed by depositing the liquid resin onto the fiber, and shaping the liquid resin and fiber by manipulating the fiber into a desired shape.
4. The structural element of claim 1, wherein the structural element is formed by shaping the liquid resin and the fiber.
5. The structural element of claim 1, wherein the structural element is uniformly integrated with other structures by being formed in sequence in relation to other.
6. The structural element of claim 1, wherein the material is formed from resin and fiber.
7. The structural element of claim 3, wherein the resin is a monomer with one or more of acrylate, epoxide, or a vinyl reactive group.
8. The structural element of claim 7, wherein the resin include one of a free-radical ultraviolet photoinitiator formulation, or a cationic ultraviolet photoinitiator formulation.
9. The structural element of claim 1, wherein the material is formed from a fiber or bundle of fibers.
10. The structural element of claim 9, wherein the fiber is a glass fiber, carbon fiber, natural fiber, conductive wire, or bundle of fibers.
11. The structural element of claim 1, wherein the structural element is in the form of a strand.
12. A designed structure comprising:
- a plurality of structural elements that are unitarily formed into a body, each structural element comprising a material having a rigid and stable three-dimensional shape that is formed into the body by curing the material from a liquid state, each of the structural elements being sequentially formed at a corresponding location of the body.
13. The designed structure of claim 12, wherein each of the structural elements are formed from resin and fiber.
14. The designed structure of claim 13, wherein the resin is a monomer with one or more of acrylate, epoxide, isocyanate, or a vinyl reactive group.
15. The designed structure of claim 14, wherein the resin include one of a free-radical ultraviolet photoinitiator formulation, or a cationic ultraviolet photoinitiator formulation.
16. The designed structure of claim 12, wherein the designed structure is a three dimensional circuit board.
17. The designed structure of claim 12, wherein each structural element includes a material formed from resin and a conductive material.
18. The designed structure of claim 17, wherein the body includes a network of electrical traces formed from the conductive material, the electrical traces providing electrical functionality through the conductive material.
19. The designed structure of claim 12, wherein the structural element is in the form of a shaped strand, and wherein the designed structure is formed by combining a series of shaped strands.
20. A device comprising:
- a resin delivery mechanism positioned to deposit liquefied resin to a given target location;
- a fiber source to supply a fiber to the given target location;
- an energy source positioned to provide energy to resin deposited and cured at the target location, sufficient to liquefy a tip portion; and
- a controller to position curation of the deposited resin at the target location, so that with manipulation of the fiber at the given location, the resin is structured into a three-dimensional structural element of a larger body.
Filed: Nov 17, 2014
Publication Date: May 21, 2015
Inventor: Robert J. Fleming (San Jose, CA)
Application Number: 14/543,772
International Classification: C08F 122/10 (20060101); B29C 67/00 (20060101); H05K 1/02 (20060101); H01B 1/20 (20060101); C03C 25/28 (20060101); B29C 70/02 (20060101); C08F 120/32 (20060101);