Alongside a passion for 3-D printing has emerged an interest in additive manufacturing, a field with implications for industries from health care to aerospace to automotive. Barrett-Crvich is exploring all it has to offer through the Center for Additive Manufacturing of Advanced Ceramics, established at UNC Charlotte in 2021 with a $1.25 million grant from the UNC System Research Opportunities Initiative program. CAMAC brings together System researchers and industry and government laboratories to drive innovation within the ceramics additive manufacturing process chain.
“Additive manufacturing is the future of helping people, being able to create small-batch, customized parts, whether it be machine part prototypes for fledgling inventors or tailored prosthetics for patients,” she said.
Barrett-Crvich conducts her ceramics research under the supervision of Brigid Mullany, professor of mechanical engineering and engineering science and one of the CAMAC leads. She is particularly interested in prosthetics and 3-D bioprinting, using ceramic polymers to create porous structures for medical use. This technique, called scaffolding, can be used to regenerate joints and ligaments, something to which Barrett-Crvich can relate.
Within her left ear, she has three plastic bones that replaced her anvil, stirrup and hammer. At 13, she visited a water park but left in excruciating pain. Doctors discovered and removed a benign tumor behind her left ear.
“I’m free and clear now after a second tumor removal, but I have only 10 percent hearing in my left ear. The loss is similar to that of people as they age. Sometimes, I use a hearing aid or read lips, which means I have to ask my fellow students to repeat themselves,” Barrett-Crvich said.