Direct Write Laboratory (DWL)

The Direct-Write Laboratory (DWL) at South Dakota Mines is focused on the use of direct-write tools to produce functional devices. Direct-write broadly describes a number of manufacturing technologies that create parts through additive manufacturing as opposed to traditional, subtractive methods such as milling. The laboratory currently houses production systems that span all three major deposition techniques, including industrial inkjet, aerosol jet, and micro-syringe.

In addition the laboratory can produce its own ink colloidal suspensions used by the production systems and includes large volume centrifuges, sonicdismembrators, filtration systems, and fume hoods.

Initial funding for the aerosol jet (Optomec) and microsyringe (nScrypt) equipment in the Direct-Write Laboratory were provided by a contract with the Army Research Laboratory. These systems were used to conduct directed research on the feasibility of using such equipment to produce antennas for communications directly onto existing structures.

More recently, the laboratory added both an industrial inkjet system (PixDro) and wide area aerosol jet depositions system (Sono-Tek) through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The equipment has been used on photovoltaic device manufacturing, composite materials development, and security printing research. Research facilitated by this laboratory led to the award of both single investigator and equipment acquisition grants from the National Science Foundation.

Scientists from the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical and Biological Engineering use the laboratory to facilitate research on a diverse group of projects including artificial electromagnetic materials, adaptive optics, photovoltaic cells, microwave frequency devices, and chemical sensing.