Joint Centers of Excellence Program

Application of Inkjet research to the fabrication of components for thermal solar energy harvesting

Digital drop manipulation forms the basis of many technological processes and manufacturing applications, including the deposition of patterned films, coatings, masks and functional materials. Precise droplet deposition also offers a new, readily scalable manufacturing process for pharmaceutical products and is already being used in the production of diagnostic and research bio-sensors. 3D printing is a form of digital additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printers offer product developers the ability to print parts and assemblies made of several materials with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. However, the technology is in most cases not yet mature enough to produce fully functional complex objects due to several limitations, including poor mechanical properties and poor surface finish. The aim of this project is to gain a better understanding of the fundamental science behind this important technology and apply it to the development of new methods of manufacturing based on inkjet printing processes for specific practical applications.