3D freeze printing is a hybrid manufacturing method composed of freeze casting and inkjet-based printing. It is a facile method to fabricate lightweight, porous, and functional structures. Freeze casting is a well-known method for fabricating porous bodies and is capable of manipulating the micro-structure of the resulting product. Freeze casting simply involves solidification of a liquid suspension using low temperature and sublimation of the solvent using low temperature and pressure. After the sublimation of the solvent crystals, we obtain a porous structure where the pores are a replica of solvent crystal. Making use of the temperature gradient, as seen in unidirectional and bidirectional freeze casting, during the solidification with low temperature values, the solvent crystals grow along the temperature gradient. Furthermore, by manipulating the freezing kinetics during solidification, we can have a control on the average pore size distribution. For instance, when lower freezing temperatures result in finer pores with higher amount, higher freezing temperatures result in coarser pores with less amount. Also, the use of some additives inside the suspension leads to changes in the morphology of the solvent crystals as well as the resulting pores. However, the macro-structure of the fabricated body is highly dependent on the mold used during the process. In order to eliminate the dependency on the mold during the freeze casting process, our group recently combined this technique with inkjet-based 3D printing. With inkjet-based 3D printing, we fabricated uniform lines from single droplets, and complex 3D shapes from the lines. This provided us the ability of tailoring the macro structure of the final product without any dependency on a mold as seen in freeze casting. As a result of the 3D freeze printing process, we achieved fabricating lightweight, porous, and functional bodies with engineered micro and macro-structures. However, achieving fine droplets, and uniform lines by merging the droplets requires a good combination of fabrication parameters such as pressure adjustment inside the print head, print head speed, jetting frequency. Also, fabricating complex shapes from uniform lines requires well-adjusted parameters such as line thickness and layer height. In this study, we briefly explained the mechanics of the 3D freeze printing process. Following that we presented the development process of an open-source inkjet-based 3D printer. Finally, we explained the determination of inkjet dispensing and 3D printing parameters required for a high-quality 3D printing. During our experiments for the determination of fabrication parameters, we used a nanocellulose crystals-based ink due to its low cost and ease of preparation.

You do not currently have access to this content.