The research in our group is in the general area of soft active materials, with a focus on 1) 3D printing of soft active materials to enable 4D printing methods; and 2) recycling of thermosetting polymers. The material systems include: shape memory polymers, light activated polymers, vitrimers. On 3D printing, we developed a wide spectrum of 3D printing capability, including: multimaterial inkjet 3D printing, digit light process (DLP) 3D printing, direct ink write (DIW) 3D printing, and fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing. These printers allow us to develop new 3D printing materials to meet the different challenging requirements. For thermosetting polymer recycling, we developed methods that allow 100% recycling carbon fiber reinforced composites and electronic packaging materials. Although we develop different novel applications, our work also relies on the understanding and modeling of material structure and properties under environmental stimuli, such as temperature, light, etc, and during material processing, such as 3D printing. Constitutive model developments are typically based on the observations from experiments and are then integrated with finite element through user material subroutines so that these models can be used to solve complicated 3D multiphysics problems involving nonlinear mechanics. A notable example is our recent pioneer work on 4D printing, where soft active materials is integrated with 3D printing to enable shape change (or time in shape forming process).
Recently, we developed a state-of-the-art hybrid 3D printing station, which allows us to integrate different polymers and conduct inks into one system. Currently, we are working on using this printing station for a variety of applications, including printed 3D electronics, printed soft robots, etc. These projects are conducted through supports from NSF and AFOSR, and through collaborations with Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Air Force Research Laboratories.
Our research is dynamic and we continuously look for fun materials to print but with our root on understanding the physical mechanisms.
Of course, we always look for talented people to join our group and to have fun together!
H. Jerry Qi