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Research Papers

A New Approach to Manufacturing Biocomposite Sandwich Structures: Investigation of Preform Shell Behavior

[+] Author and Article Information
Lai Jiang

Center for Automation Technologies and
Systems,
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
110 8th Street,
Troy, NY 12180
e-mail: jianglai136@gmail.com

Daniel Walczyk

Fellow ASME
Center for Automation Technologies and
Systems,
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
110 8th Street,
Troy, NY 12180
e-mail: walczd@rpi.edu

Gavin McIntyre

Ecovative Design, LLC,
70 Cohoes Avenue,
Troy, NY 12183
e-mail: gavin@ecovativedesign.com

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received January 11, 2016; final manuscript received June 29, 2016; published online September 21, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Yong Huang.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 139(2), 021014 (Sep 21, 2016) (11 pages) Paper No: MANU-16-1026; doi: 10.1115/1.4034278 History: Received January 11, 2016; Revised June 29, 2016

The manufacture of natural fiber and core preforms for biocomposite sandwich structures that bound together with fungal mycelium-based polymer is investigated. The complete manufacturing process involves: (1) cutting individual textile plies; (2) impregnating multi-ply layups with natural glue conducive to mycelium growth; (3) simultaneously forming, sterilizing and setting impregnated skins; (4) filling formed skins with mycelium-laden agri-waste; (5) allowing mycelium to colonize and bind together core substrate and skins into a unitized preform; (6) high temperature drying that also inactivates fungus; and (7) infusing skins with bioresin using resin transfer molding. Aspects of steps 3–6 related to the preform shells and sandwich structure are the main focus of this paper. Three-point bending tests are performed on dry, natural glue-bonded, four-ply specimens in a full-factorial experimental design, and test results are analyzed by analysis of variance (ANOVA) to assess process parameter effects and sensitivities along with environmental condition effects. New specimens are then made using the optimized process and tested for beam bending in creep within an environmental chamber that mimics the actual mycelium growth environment for three days. Two- and six-ply specimens loaded to provide identical maximum tensile stress in flexure are tested, and useful conclusions are drawn based on all creep test results. Finally, preforms in the shape of a viable commercial product are filled with mycelium-inoculated substrate, grown and dried, and part quality is evaluated based on the amount of skin ingrowth and deviation between the measured and desired shapes.

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References

Figures

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Fig. 1

Manufacturing steps for mycelium-bound biocomposite sandwich structures [13]

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Fig. 2

(a) Outdoor sandal mold shape, (b) nip roller impregnator, (c) matched heated mold press, and (d) stamped two-ply linen preforms

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Fig. 3

(a) Thermal pressing apparatus used for making four-ply flexural beam samples and (b) Biotex Jute (top) and Flax (bottom) samples cut to size

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Fig. 4

(a) A Biotex Jute beam sample being tested on an Instron MicroTester and (b) example of a typical flexural force–displacement curve

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Fig. 5

(a) Prototype with flax beam specimen subjected to midspan loading and (b) geometry of a beam under midspan loading

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Fig. 6

(a) Prototype with flax beam specimen subjected to distributed loading and (b) geometry of a beam under distributed loading

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Fig. 7

Kenaf/hemp substrate-filled preform covered with cap and placed in a semipermeable growth bag for (a) jute and (b) flax skins. Fully colonized and dried preforms (bottom skin showing) for (c) jute and (d) flax.

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Fig. 8

(a) A CMM machine with grown jute and flax parts fixed to its based that is used to measure z-heights for shape conformance measurements and (b) 3D printed plastic model of the outdoor sandal shape used as the reference shape with measurement locations indicated

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Fig. 9

Relationship between the drying temperature, pressure and time with (a) Sf  and (b) Ef  for Biotex Jute

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Fig. 10

Relationship between the drying temperature, pressure and time with mean Sf (a) and Ef (b) for Biotex Flax

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Fig. 11

Deflection results of creep tests for (a) Biotex Jute with 5 g midspan load and (b) Biotex Flax with 10 g midspan load showing mean deflection and error bars corresponding to 95% confidence level

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Fig. 12

Deflection results of creep tests for (a) Biotex Jute with 5 g distributed loading and (b) Biotex Flax with 10 g distributed loading showing mean deflection and error bars corresponding to 95% confidence level

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Fig. 13

Deflection results of creep tests for (a) two-ply Biotex Flax beam with 2.50 g midspan load and (b) uniformly distributed loading showing mean deflection and error bars corresponding to 95% confidence level

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Fig. 14

Deflection results of creep tests for (a) six-ply Biotex Flax beam with 22.50 g midspan load and (b) uniformly distributed loading showing mean deflection and error bars corresponding to 95% confidence level

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Fig. 15

Average z-heights with ±1σ error bars and ideal heights indicated as×data markers for (a) jute and (b) flax parts

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