It is understood that the University of Cordoba's manufacturing process team in Spain has studied how to optimize the characteristics of surfaces made by 3D printing, and the goal is particularly clear, so that such surfaces can clean themselves. The concept of a self-cleaning surface is not new. In construction and automotive processes, this coating has been applied to glass surfaces, allowing water droplets to easily roll off the surface and remove dust particles. In some other areas, the use of self-cleaning surfaces is also important. One of them is for traffic lights, and 3D printing has been used to print light bulbs for traffic lights. Road safety on freeways depends to a large extent on whether such signals are clean and can be clearly seen by drivers. Therefore, the idea of using rain or morning dew to allow them to clean themselves is very interesting.
This research analyzed the roughness characteristics of the 3D printed surface, so that the surface has fewer raised parts and a good finish, to prevent the embedding of dust, and to allow the dust particles to fall off easily. This time, the researchers also studied the water-repellent properties of 3D printed surfaces. Therefore, it is easier for water to roll off the surface, taking away dirt particles, making it difficult for dirt particles to stick to the surface.
To implement the study in a practical way, the research team created an easy-to-manage model that predicted the surface characteristics of the part even before printing the surface.
3D printers have several parameters that can be used to modify the surface characteristics of the part being printed. To print such models, the researchers used data mining techniques to analyze the printing parameters that most affected the surface's self-cleaning characteristics.
The study was carried out by the University of Cordoba in collaboration with the Cordoba company Estampaciones Casado (Casado Stamping), a company that manufactures and maintains traffic lights, and recently used 3D printing to produce signal light components with LED lights . In addition, Smart Materials 3-D, a manufacturing company from Hahn, also participated in the study. Smart Materials 3-D mainly produces thermoplastic fibers, the raw materials for 3D printers.
After that, the research group will work on a project called "Developing New Industrial Applications of 3D Printed Parts to Improve Surface Properties" as part of the FDM-Sur International Program. Through the project, researchers will try to optimize the characteristics of 3D printed surfaces to solve practical problems facing companies in the region.
In addition to in-depth research on the self-cleaning properties of 3D printed parts, the project will also focus on improving the surface properties of 3D printed molds, which are mainly used to make polyurethane foam parts such as car seats, cushions and pillows. In addition, researchers will work to reduce the ice attached to communications antennas and other fuselage components on drones and unmanned aerial vehicles.