Layer-By-Layer Films via 3D Drop on Demand Printing
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The traditional method for making Layer-By-Layer films is a laborious, expensive, wasteful, and non-ecofriendly process; therefore this study was conducted to find a faster, more cost efficient, and non-wasteful method of producing ecofriendly Layer-By-Layer films which could potentially be used in the food and beverage packaging industry. Thin films consisting of polymers and nanoclays were produced utilizing a Drop on demand (DOD) 3D printer, where small droplets of solutions and suspensions were dispensed onto Mylar substrates in pre-defined patterns in a non-contact manner. Once the solution had dried, the residual compounds yielded an array of materials, which could potentially be used in various applications, such as an oxygen barrier film. The preparation of thin films on substrates via 3D drop on demand printing is particularly attractive as a means of preparing polymer microarrays. The size of the deposited structures is on the order of tens or hundreds of microns. This coincides with the dimensions used in different types of gas barriers, moisture barriers, UV prevention coatings, and drug release applications. Different concentrations of ink solutions of polymers and nanoclays were printed on a Mylar substrate and analyzed for their effectiveness as a gas barrier film for various applications, primarily focusing on oxygen. The study evaluated the physical and functional properties of the different solutions. Each ink solution was analyzed using different material characterization techniques. The research yielded surprising and promising results with some of thin films exhibiting very good oxygen barrier properties, such as the combination of PVP & MMT and some like PEG & MMT that did not.