3D printing is an additive manufacturing process in which layers of material are deposited according to a three-dimensional computer model. This process has been transformative in prototyping and low-volume part production, but the monolithic (mostly polymer and some metal or ceramic) materials currently used have insufficient mechanical properties for some potential applications. Composite materials – specifically polymer-ceramic hybrids – show tremendous promise for robust 3D printed structures, but currently can only be aligned in a single direction. 
Technology Overview
In this invention, 3D printing of aligned ceramic fibers in a polymer matrix is used to enable the printing of three-dimensionally-aligned composites. Ceramic fibers are electrostatically labeled with magnetic particles to enable alignment along the direction of an applied magnetic field. These fibers are suspended in a solvent-based polymer solution which is extruded using a direct-write manufacturing method. Magnetic fields are applied at the extrusion location to align the fibers. Fibers are aligned in any direction throughout the part by controlling the direction of the applied magnetic field.
- Allows for the fabrication of structures using discontinuous fiber composites
- Orthogonal solenoids targeting the print location allows for a more compact magnetic alignment system 
- Orthogonal solenoid system on the print head allows for an unlimited print area 
- Direct-write system allows for printing with various types of materials (solvent-based, air cure, molten) 
- Uses a DC power source for solenoid control as opposed to an AC power source, reducing cost and simplifying electrical control of source power
- Mimic biological fiber alignment in bone
- Print high strength, patient-specific catheters
- Print 3D structures with a high strength to weight ratio 
- License
- Partnering
- Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Randall Erb
Andrew Caunter
Ryan Pembroke
Daniel Shores
Amy den Dulk
Scott Goodrich