Design and Development of a Foil Application Tool for a Foil Embedding Process in the Multi3D Manufacturing System

Betty Elizabeth McKenzie, University of Texas at El Paso


Additive manufacturing (AM) encompasses different technologies, including material extrusion 3D printing, a technology commonly referred to as fused deposition modeling (FDM), which is the focus of the work described in this manuscript. Additive manufacturing is a growing technology with many applications in numerous fields from the air force to medical offices. FDM is a process that uses thermoplastics, in this case polycarbonate (PC), where the PC is heated and selectively dispensed in a layer-by-layer process to create a 3D printed part. Currently, FDM systems have advantages over subtractive manufacturing or machining because cavities and other components (e.g., microchips, valves, and actuators) can be inserted at any layer. ^ The FA tool was designed and implemented as an automated tool for applying copper foil onto the surface of a printed substrate. The copper foil was then machined using the CNC to create patterns. Copper foils were patterned for dissipating heat, but other potential patterns include circuits, ground planes or an electrical connection between layers, just to name a few. The FA tool included the capabilities of varying the feed rate of the dispensed copper foil, handling different copper gauge thicknesses and widths not to exceed 25.4 mm (1 inch). The ultimate goal of these efforts was to incorporate the FA tool into the Multi3D Manufacturing System where a new generation of HM processes would be executed by one machine. The results of these new HM processes will ultimately culminate in the fabrication of complex parts with electrical capabilities through the embedding of copper foil. In previous work, electronic components in a 3D printed part were manually added after pausing and removing the substrate from the printer. The manual intervention proved to introduce registration errors and was deemed to be labor-intensive and tedious. The goal of the FA tool was to create a HM system that would eliminate human interaction in the building process; therefore creating a fully automated system to mitigate registration errors and tedious operations. The result would be a completed complex print with electronic capabilities with the unique capabilities of a 3D printer. ^ Upon completion of the FA tool, experiments were done; those of which resulted in multiple findings. First, the FA tool applied the foil to a designated position within 8% of the specified location. Also, the addition of embedded foil decreased the flexural extension of the PC part with the increase of width of the foil. With the addition of 12.7 mm copper foil the percent decrease of the flexural extension compared to the samples without foil was 19% and 42% for the 25.4 mm foil. Tests were done to determine how straight a copper strip could be applied along a 76.2 mm (3 inches) length. The length was user-designated and was not chosen for specific reasons. It was important to test how straight the copper foil strip was applied because different applications of the copper foil could require straight strips. Foil applications such as ground planes for antennas require specific location and dimensions of the copper for accuracy on electromagnetic response data. The copper showed a maximum horizontal displacement of 0.4 mm on either side along its length of 76.2 mm. Lastly, one, two and three copper foil strips were applied to three separate parts along three faces of a PC block. One of the exposed sides of the copper was positioned onto a heating plate. Thermocouples were evenly placed across three faces of the part to determine the temperature distribution across the PC part. There was a decrease of change in temperature across the copper foil with an increase of copper foil surface area. The percent difference between the part with no foil and one foil strip was a 26.3 percent increase. The percent increase from one foil to three foils was 37.5%. ^ At the conclusion of the testing of the FA tool, the produced results exhibited that the FA tool could apply copper foil under a ten percent error. Electronic components, structural purposes and thermal dissipation are all within the capabilities of the FA tool in the Multi3D Manufacturing System. Foil embedding through the application of foil application with the FA tool has proven to be an automated process with multiple purposes. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.)^

Subject Area

Engineering|Mechanical engineering

Recommended Citation

McKenzie, Betty Elizabeth, "Design and Development of a Foil Application Tool for a Foil Embedding Process in the Multi3D Manufacturing System" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10273808.