ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING OF PERSONALIZED WETSUITS
Jaunich, Laurel M.
Gunduz, Ibrahim E.
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Additive manufacturing (AM) provides opportunities to customize parts with precise control of geometry and materials. An application for the Navy is the fabrication of user-tailored wetsuits with superior fit, as well as enhanced thermal and mechanical properties required for dives at cold temperatures and high pressures. The goal of this project is to investigate AM for the fabrication of wetsuit parts. A 3D scanner was used to generate a digital model of a hand, which was modified with a modeling tool to form a glove and sliced for printing. The glove was 3D printed using fused filament fabrication with multiple methods and materials, including thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer (TPU), polyvinyl alcohol polymer (PVA), and polylactic acid (PLA). PLA was initially used to determine appropriate settings for the other materials. A fully TPU-printed glove most closely resembled a wetsuit with an excellent fit. TPU printed at 100% infill proved to be stiffer than neoprene, which might be advantageous for higher external pressures. Alternatively, a water-soluble PVA part was printed to use as a scaffold and a neoprene gel was applied to the outside, which left a thin shell of neoprene upon dissolution of PVA in water. This shell had the flexibility of a traditional wetsuit, but lacked thickness, which would require multiple applications of the gel. The results suggest a combination of these approaches can be used for producing next-generation personalized wetsuits for the Navy.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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