Carbon Nanotube Yarns/Composites Manufacturing and Testing [2010-2013]
Several machines and test apparatuses were necessary during this research in order to finely control and test the properties of carbon nanotube yarns and thin-film composites. In addition, care was always taken to design systems that have the potential to be scaled up for mass manufacturing. The microFactory allowed for customized test-production systems including a simultaneous spinning-spooling mechanism which can precisely control twist ratio while allowing for several kilometers of yarn to be created. A precise tensioning system allowed for incredibly gentle yet effective drag to be imparted on a CNT ribbon; either before polymer introduction for composite applications or twist insertion for yarn production.
Supplementary devices and apparatuses were designed and built to test new production concepts that aimed to increase CNT-based materials' properties. The microRoller drafter follows the long-standing textile field's model to improve mutual parallelism between fibers which increases strength, stiffness, and repeatability. The high temperature all-graphite tensile stage assisted in graphetizing and carbonizing CNT composites using PAN as the matrix. This apparatus was designed to fit into the high-temperature furnace while maintaining slight pretension on the specimens.
The ultimate goal of this research was to introduce advanced composites and embeddable sensors. Concepts including a structure-wide embedded central nervous system of CNT yarn strain sensors promise to improve structural fidelity and reduce maintenance costs.
CNT prepreg prototype
This robotically driven stage produced the first large scale composite sheet. Previously, the largest sheet was only 1" x 2.5"