Rapid fiber alignment quantification in direct write printing of short fiber reinforced composites

William Jordan Wright, Hilmar Koerner, Dan Rapking, Andrew Abbott, Emrah Celik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Short fiber reinforced polymer composites fabricated by direct ink writing (DW) have design flexibility, low cost, and tailored property advantages over traditional composite materials. Controlling fiber alignment in these composite systems can be used to design unique materials with direction-dependent properties, especially when coupled to topology optimization for light weighting and high strength. This study focuses on controlling fiber alignment in short carbon fiber composites with two printing parameters common in DW systems: nozzle diameter and velocity ratio. To do so, a novel rapid fiber alignment analysis (RFAA) was developed to quickly collect large amounts of fiber alignment data. Compared to the conventional fiber alignment quantification technique, X-Ray CT, RFAA is a rapid, accurate, and low-cost alternative. It was determined that fiber alignment can be enhanced by printing with smaller nozzle diameters and higher velocity ratios. Longitudinal bending stiffness and bending strength improved as the fiber alignment increased. Composites printed with low fiber alignment exhibited isotropic mechanical properties. However, aligning the fibers in the composite resulted in direction-dependent properties with significantly enhanced modulus and strength in the alignment direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109814
JournalComposites Part B: Engineering
StatePublished - May 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Composites
  • Direct Ink Writing
  • short fiber

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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