The work presented here is motivated by the recent growing interest in using additive manufacturing to fabricate micro-channels networks. Distorted shapes and rough geometries influence hydrodynamic characteristics of micro-channels by increasing their flow resistance and pressure drop or altering wall shear stresses inside them. Since geometric conformity and shape fidelity of micro-channels networks are greatly influenced by manufacturing process, this work is focused on dimensional characterization of micro-channels fabricated using additive manufacturing. In this work, circular and rectangular cross-section micro-channels are 3D printed. Shapes and dimensions of 3D printed micro-channels are examined using Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) imaging. In this work, 500 μm diameter and 200 μm square transparent PolyLactic Acid (PLA) micro-channels are 3D printed with average errors 0.25% and 1.65%, respectively. SEM images confirmed geometric conformity and shape fidelity of the 3D printed circular and rectangular cross-section micro-channels. Statistical analysis is performed on multiple prints to verify reproducibility and shape conformity. Results show that factors such as printing direction play essential role in the shape conformity and geometric fidelity of the micro-channels. Although 3D printing is a promising route for attaining micro-channels there are still significant improvements that can be made to the precision of the printer in the XY plane for printing small geometric figures. This improvement will likely come as the printing technology and software both improve to allow the operator more control over the outcome of the print. Additionally, new 3D printing materials may open the gate for new applications in different fields such as thermal management and microfluidics.
Generation and Investigation of Embedded Micro-Channels Network Using Three Dimensional Printing Technology
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Smith, A, & Bardaweel, H. "Generation and Investigation of Embedded Micro-Channels Network Using Three Dimensional Printing Technology." Proceedings of the ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Volume 10: Micro- and Nano-Systems Engineering and Packaging. Tampa, Florida, USA. November 3–9, 2017. V010T13A027. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2017-70161
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