UK’s PEDOT Fiber Team tours somerset lab, engage in collab talks

The University of Kentucky’s PEDOT:PSS Fiber team travelled one-and-a-half hours south to visit Somerset Community College and their Additive Manufacturing Program in late March. Dr. Matt Weisenberger of UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research, alongside Dr. Ruben Riquelme-Sarabia and PhD candidate Paula Alarcon-Espejo explored the fabrication of PEDOT:PSS fibers as part of objective 2.1.2 in the KAMPERS KY NSF EPSCoR Track-1: Develop and formulate fused filament, composite fiber, in-situ polymerizable monomers, and/or thermoplastic conductors and semiconductors amenable to printing.

The Weisenberger lab is one of the few in the country working on PEDOT:PSS fiber fabrication, a conductive material that could be used in 3D printing and other manufacturing techniques. Their novel research in this area has led to collaborative opportunities across the country, and in this case, down 1-75 in Somerset. 

Professor Eric Wooldridge leads the Somerset Community College Additive Manufacturing Program, offering associate degrees in applied science with a 3D printing emphasis. SCC is a leader in workforce development and in additive manufacturing/3D printing. It is also the first institution of higher education in Kentucky to offer a technician certificate in 3D printing.

Professor Woolridge is no stranger to UK collaboration through KY NSF EPSCoR, as his team worked with Dr. Seth DeBolt (CO-PI on the Track-1) and his UK team on research and developing a new material use for distilling byproducts. The byproducts are being combined with conventional additive manufacturing materials that are cornstarch-based to create a new form of 3D printing filament. The project will continue into year 5 and is already showing promise in 3D printing several objects using low-cost 3D printers. Similarly utilizing PEDOT:PSS as a filament material could add conductivity to 3D-Printed objects, setting the stage for novel scientific discovery. 

Professor Wooldridge showing off virtual reality headset with a 3D printing concrete housing program to Dr. Weisenberger.