Jeffrey Rhoads, a professor in Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering, and Emre Gunduz, a former research assistant professor at the school, along with a few colleagues, have launched a faculty-owned startup called Next Offset Solutions Inc. that makes the printers and the energetic materials, including solid rocket fuels, other propellants and pyrotechnics. The energetic materials are produced through a method that allows the printer to produce viscous materials with a consistency similar to clay.
The process allows the researchers to safely deposit energetic materials with a high level of precision.
The printer functions in a manner similar to typical 3D printers except it applies high-amplitude ultrasonic vibrations to the nozzle, reducing friction on the nozzle walls and thus allowing the highly viscous materials to be pushed through. The method also allows for precise flow control.
Researchers at Purdue also have used the method to print biomedical implants, personalized drugs and other products. Next Offset Solutions is primarily focused on the production of energetic materials, but is exploring other avenues for the technology as well.