Direct write processes include a wide range of additive manufacturing techniques with the ability to fabricate structures directly onto planar and non-planar surfaces. Most additive manufacturing techniques use unreinforced polymers to produce parts. By adding carbon fiber as a reinforcing material, properties such as mechanical strength, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity can be enhanced. Carbon fibers can be long and continuous, or short and discontinuous. The strength of carbon fiber composite parts is greatly increased when the fibers are preferentially aligned. This research focuses on increasing the strength of additively manufactured parts reinforced using discontinuous carbon fibers that have been aligned during the micro extrusion process.

A design of experiments (DOE) approach was used to identify significant process parameters affecting fiber alignment. Factors such as the length of carbon fibers, nozzle diameter, fiber loading fraction, air pressure, translational speed and standoff distance were considered. A two dimensional Fast Fourier Transform (2D FFT) was used to quantify the degree of fiber alignment in the extruded composite inks. ImageJ software supported by an oval profile plugin was used with micrographs of printed samples to obtain the carbon fiber alignment values. The optimal value for the factors was derived by identifying the significant main and interaction effects.

Based on the results of the DOE, tensile test samples were printed with fibers aligned parallel and perpendicular to the tensile axis. A standard test method for tensile properties of plastic revealed that the extruded parts with fibers aligned along the tensile axis were better in tensile strength and modulus.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Carbon fibers--Testing; Carbon fibers--Mechanical properties; Electronic apparatus and appliances--Design and construction

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Industrial and Systems Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Industrial and Systems Engineering (KGCOE)


Denis Cormier

Advisor/Committee Member

Marcos Esterman


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TA418.9.C6 M342 2014


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes