Electric Field Guided Micro Additive Manufacturing Process

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview: The goal is the development of a new micro additive manufacturing process characterized by sub-micron resolution, wide material selection and superior processing time as compared to traditional micro-fabrication techniques. This electrophoretically-guided micro additive manufacturing process (EPμAM) is based on electrophoretic deposition in which an externally applied electric field governs the movement, agglomeration and deposition of dispersed particles in a solvent. In the EPμAM process a 2D or 3D array of individually controlled micro-electrodes generates electric fields that control particle movement and deposition. By depositing particles in a layer-by-layer fashion, the desired 3D geometry is built. After deposition, the solvent is evaporated and the final product is obtained by sintering or curing the deposited layers. The anticipated fields of applications are very wide and include fields such as: electronics, biomedical and aeronautical industries, and electronic and MEMS fabrication to mention a few.
Intellectual merit: The principal fundamental scientific and technological barriers that need to be addressed to develop this new fabrication process are: (a) understanding of the theoretical principles of force-field control based on electric field actuation which enables particle manipulation and deposition, (b) predictive modeling of the interaction between the stability of the guided self-organizing mechanics of particle agglomeration and the electric fields that guide their hierarchical formation, and (c) the design of the apparatus and control system for the micro electrode array that will provide the necessary accuracy and repeatability of the build. Four tasks are planned: (1) Particle trajectories: The effective dipole method will initially be used to describe the mechanisms that govern particle trajectories. Later, the model will be improved by the modified Nernst-Planck equations to account for particle and particle charge concentrations. The models will constitute the basis for the formulation of advanced particle deposition control methods; (2) Particle deposition and self-organization: Particle adhesion to the surface will be investigated through modeling of the electric charge redistribution during surface contact in the deposition stage. The stability of the formed particle agglomerates and their packing configuration will be modeled as an energy minimization problem. The models will determine the optimal ranges of processing parameters that result in the formation of stable particle structures in the deposited layer; (3) Layer-formation mechanics: Numerical models will be established to characterize the influence of the electric fields on the already deposited structure’s stability. A streamlined model for structural stability of the particle layer during new layer deposition will be implemented in order to characterize the deposited layer as a new deposition surface. Edge formation mechanisms for the deposited layers will be explored with emphasis on the interaction between particle cohesion and electric field edge effects; (4) EPμAM testbed: Assessment of the feasibility of the process and the developed models will be executed on a custom-built testbed. Electrode array optimization in terms of array configuration will be performed. The control unit will be realized by the use of micro controller technology to provide the necessary flexibility, upgradability and a stable platform for easy communication with computers and for the future extensions of particle manipulation techniques.
Broader impact:
Effective start/end date7/1/156/30/20


  • National Science Foundation (CMMI‐1463411)

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