An airbrush 3D printer: Additive manufacturing of relaxor ferroelectric actuators

Stijn IJssel de Schepper, Andres Hunt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The additive manufacturing of electroactive polymer (EAP) devices poses significant challenges due to their distinct structure and dissimilar properties of their constituent materials. It requires deposition of multiple functional materials with different properties, achieving μm-scale resolution in layer thickness, and executing incremental deposition and curing steps while preserving the previously deposited functional material layers. This study introduces an airbrush 3D printer concept and employs it for fabricating EAP transducers. An airbrush 3D printer was constructed by adapting a standard extrusion printer platform and integrating it with a two fluid atomizer (i.e. an airbrush) as the deposition tool. A process was developed for printing of the bending P(VDF-TrFE-CTFE) actuators with carbon black electrodes, and actuators with a single and dual EAP layers were fabricated. The airbrush printer attained in-plane resolution of 0.5mm, thickness resolutions of 0.63 μm and allowed atomizing up to 7% P(VDF-TrFE-CTFE) solutions. The 18 mm × 4 mm EAP actuators achieved 340μm (440 Vpp) and 3.7 mm (400 Vpp, 104 Hz) tip deflections respectively in quasi-static and resonant operation. Airbrush printing therefore proved to be a robust method for printing precursor materials with a wide range of properties, and is anticipated to be a versatile approach for printing other passive and stimuli-responsive materials and devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103982
Number of pages11
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Airbrush 3D printer
  • Electroactive polymer
  • Smart material actuator
  • Spray printing


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