4D printing of composites.

A presentation by professor Suong Hoa, Director, Concordia Center for Composites (CONCOM), Canada.

4D printing of composites (abbreviated as 4DPC) is a manufacturing technique that can produce composite structures with complex geometries without the need for complex molds. The technique is also termed “Mouldless composite manufacturing”. This technique utilizes light weight, high strength, high stiffness composite materials that have been used to make light weight components for space structures, aircrafts, automobiles. wind turbine blades, and sports equipment.

The difference between 4DPC and regular 4D printing is that in regular 4D printing, the material used are usually soft polymeric materials, which have low stiffness (about 10GPa) and strength (about 10 MPa), whereas the materials used in 4DPC have high stiffness (about 100 GPa) and strength (about 100 MPa). The principle of operation for 4DPC depends on the anisotropy of the laminate (which is made up of many layers with different fiber orientations). This technique has been utilized to make structures such as composite leaf springs, and composite omega stiffeners, using only flat molds, rather than molds with complex geometries.

Interview

Question 1: What drives you?
I have been working on composite materials and structures for more than 40 years. Most of the composite structures used have symmetric arrangement. I would like to explore the potential of un-symmetric laminates to make unconventional structures. These include composite structures with complex geometries without the need to use complex molds. This also has applications for efficient packaging of composite structures intended for installation in remote locations such as outer space.

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
4D printing of composites (4DPC) is a totally new concept. People are familiar and excited about 3D printing. The concept of 4D printing has also been introduced about 7 years ago. 4DPC can provide potential for big savings in time and money, where composite structures of complex geometries can be made without the use of complex molds. There are also applications for efficient packaging for structures intended for installation in remote locations such as outer space.

Question 3: What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
I can see that 4DPC can be used to make actuators, composite structures with complex shapes that can not be make using conventional manufacturing techniques, composite structures that can respond to the change in its environment, efficient packaging for complex structures.

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
This can provide big savings for composite manufacturing. It can also open up a range of new applications

Question 5: What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
4DPC is more suitable for large structures. Due to the minimum radius that can be produced, it is difficult to make small structures.

About Suong Hoa
Dr. Suong Van Hoa has been a professor at the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering at Concordia university for the past 43 years. He has been working on composite materials and structures for the past 41 years. He conceived the idea of 4D printing of composites, and has been working on this topic for the past 4 years.

About Concordia University
Concordia University is a comprehensive university that was established in 1974. It is located in the heart of Montreal. It has more than 45,000 students in the four faculties of Arts and Science, Fine Arts, the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, and the John Molson School of Business.

Suong Hoa is speaker at the 2021 edition of the 4D Printing & Meta Materials Conference.

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