This study investigates the extrusion-based additive manufacturing (AM) of silicone 3D contour nonwoven fabrics by liquid rope coiling. Customized contour fabrics are ideal for wearable devices for individualized fit and comfort in contact. The AM using silicone liquid rope coiling can fabricate the porous and 3D contour nonwoven fabrics with enhanced breathability and comfortability. The key challenge in the proposed fabrication is the inability to generate consistent coiling pattern because the nozzle orientation deviates from the surface normal vector. A five-axis machine for silicone extrusion AM of nonwoven fabrics was developed to continuously align the nozzle orientation continuously with the surface normal vector. Three cases of silicone printing by coiling were investigated: 1) 3-axis printing, 2) 4-axis printing with nozzle axis normal to the tangent of the toolpath, and 3) 5-axis printing with nozzle axis parallel to the base surface normal. The coiling pattern and geometrical accuracy of the contour fabrics are studied. Results show that the 5-axis AM can generate the consistent coiling pattern and the desired contour geometry to fabricate the silicone 3D contour nonwoven fabrics.

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