The particle-polymer composite can perform multiple functionalities according to particle property, local particle distribution, and alignment. This paper shows thermal management applications of in situ manipulations of particle dispersion patterns within a 3D printed polymeric composite architecture. A 3D printed particle-polymer composite with enhanced thermal conductive properties was developed. Composite structures containing 30-micron-sized aluminum particles embedded in the acrylate polymer were produced using a novel acoustic field assisted projection based Stereolithography process. Thermal properties of the pure polymer and prepared uniform composite with 2.75 wt% particle were characterized by using the transient hot bridge technique. To investigate the effect of material composition and particle distribution pattern on composite thermal behavior, heat sinks were designed and fabricated with the pure polymer, homogeneous composite with particles uniformly distributed in the polymer matrix, and composite with patterned particles for comparison. Infrared thermal imaging was performed on the 3D printed objects. The homogeneous composites displayed slight enhancement in thermal conductivity. A significant improvement of heat dissipation speed was observed for the patterned composite, due to a densely interconnected aluminum aggregate network. To further improve the thermal property of the patterned composite, varying layer thicknesses were tested. The developed patterned composites with superior performance compared to the inherent polymer material and homogeneous composites can be used for fabricating thermal management applications in electronic and fluidic devices.

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