Doctoral student pushes the boundaries of additive manufacturing

Dharneedar Ravichandran, a PhD student in the systems engineering program, presents his multiphase direct ink writing, or MDIW, additive manufacturing research at the American Chemical Society, or ACS, Symposium in March 2023. Photo courtesy of Dharneedar Ravichandran

Dharneedar Ravichandran, a systems engineering doctoral student in the School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, is making significant strides in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, research in the Advanced Materials Advance Manufacturing Laboratory led by Associate Professor Kenan Song.  

“My research involves the development of a new layered composite 3D printing mechanism called multiphase direct ink writing,” Ravichandran says.

Multiphase direct ink writing, or MDIW, was built on traditional 3D printing architecture but uses direct ink writing as a backbone. Ravichandran says that this method has high potential because it resembles durable structures found in nature such as in the Rainbow Mountains in Peru, and The Wave sandstone formations in Arizona and Utah.

MDIW uses a single nozzle, unlike traditional 3D printers which use a multi-nozzle technique, uniquely designed to stitch two immiscible polymer solutions, or solutions that don’t form a homogenous mixture, together, producing a layered structure. Ravichandran says that MDIW is an advancement because it reduces the complex machine design and programming needed for multi-material printing.

He also says that MDIW is versatile because it can be used in fiber fabrication for textile engineering or micro-patterning for electronic devices and various applications in between.

This breakthrough research has brought recognition to Ravichandran through various awards and speaking opportunities.

He was recognized by the American Chemical Society, or ACS, with an Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research honor and invited to speak at the ACS Spring 2023 Symposium in March 2023 — an event that spotlights graduate students who are engaged in polymer research.

Ravichandran’s abstract was also selected to be presented at the MSEC 2023 Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference – Doctoral Symposium sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME, in June 2023.

“I was able to attend these events through travel awards from ASU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association, The Polytechnic School and School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks,” he says.

So far, Ravichandran’s MDIW work has been published in six journals and he has goals to continue raising awareness of his research.

Apart from research, Ravichandran is a volunteer award reviewer with ASU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association. He also helps organize public visits to the lab and mentors high school students, undergraduate degree thesis students and master’s degree students during the summers.

Soon, he will switch his degree to manufacturing engineering, a degree offered through the School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks.

Following graduation, Ravichandran will either work in the industry as a research scientist or become a postdoc in academia.

“One of my criteria is to try to work outside of my comfort zone to improve my skills as a researcher or scientist in the future,” Ravichandran says. “I have always wanted to associate myself with the manufacturing sector.”