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Christopher Williams


Molecules to Manufacturing: Concurrent Design of Materials and Additive Manufacturing Processes

The core function of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies – forming layers by the selective placement (or forming) of solid material – provides unsurpassed design freedom in both the geometric topology and the material composition of a product. Using AM, a designer has the power to selectively place (multi)material only where it is needed, and thus is afforded the opportunity to realize products that satisfy multiple functions and design objectives. However, to fully realize this potential, AM processes are in need of further advancements in material selection and process capability.

To address this need, it is necessary to move beyond attempts at processing materials that were originally designed for the characteristics of traditional casting and forming manufacturing processes. Instead, it is necessary to tailor both the materials for the unique constraints imposed by AM processes, and the processes for the unique properties (rheology, kinetics, chemistries, etc.) of the materials. Through this concurrent design of the material and the AM process, it is possible to further expand the AM materials catalog, and thus the processes’ capabilities. In this talk, examples of this “molecules to manufacturing” approach are presented in the context of three AM processes: (i) nanoinks as structural binders for binder jetting, (ii) a low-temperature soluble polymer for material extrusion of pharmaceuticals, and (iii) fully-aromatic polyimides via vat photopolymerization.


Christopher B. Williams is an Associate Professor and Electro Mechanical Corporation Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. He is the Director of the Design, Research, and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS) Laboratory and Associate Director of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute (MII). His research contributions have been recognized by eight Best Paper awards at international design, manufacturing, and engineering education conferences. He is a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2013), the 2012 International Outstanding Young Researcher in Freeform and Additive Fabrication Award, and the 2010 Emerald Engineering Additive Manufacturing Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. He serves on the Additive Manufacturing Community Advisors for SME. Chris holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia) and a B.S. with High Honors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida).


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