Photonics, Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials are considered by the European Commission as key enabling technology due to the transcendental fields where these technologies have proved their capacity to provide solutions, as improved sensors, imaging and treatment in medicine, or enhanced versatility for industrial material fabrication and processing.
Pulsed laser ablation in liquid (PLAL) joins Photonics and Nanotechnology, offering a solution for a green and low toxicity synthesis of colloidal nanoparticles, allowing their posterior implementation overcoming time consuming purification post processing. The library of nanomaterials that can be produced by PLAL is wide, since materials requirements are reduced to the possibility of overcoming the ablation threshold of the material immersed in the desired solvent. This versatility is a key feature to enable the development of Advanced Materials.
The modification of currently existing materials to enhance or provide new functionalities represents the best approach to produce cost-effective materials for demanding applications. Additive manufacturing (AM) techniques offer the desired design freedom required and represent a cost effective approach to produce custom parts. However, the library of materials processable by LPBF is limited, reducing the possibility of manufacturing parts with custom functionalities as stability at high temperature environments, under radiation exposure, or sensing capabilities, and controlled motion (actuators). With this aim, a general route to nanoadditivate polymer powders for LPBF with homogeneously dispersed nanoparticles will be presented. The PLAL produced nanoparticles are adsorbed on the polymer or metal powder directly in the obtained aqueous dispersions after PLAL, followed by drying, powder analysis and LPBF processing. The achieved homogeneous nanoparticle dispersion on the polymer powder is shown to transfer the plasmonic, and magnetic properties of the nanoparticles to the produced polymer parts with a nanoparticle loading below 0.1 wt%. Furthermore, the produced nanoadditivated metal parts exhibit superior mechanical properties at 600ºC compared to the reference part built without nanoparticle-addition. The process success and versatility is demonstrated for different nanoparticles (gold, silver, carbon, iron oxide, and yttrium oxide), polymers (TPU and PA12), and a metal (PM2000). Showing the possibility to widen the selection of processable materials by LPBF (i.e. TPU) and providing additional mechanical, optical and magnetic functionalities to materials already employed.