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Experimental evaluation of the mechanical and thermal properties of 3D printed PLA and its composites


M Vinyas, SJ Athul, D Harursampath, T Nguyen Thoi

Source title: 
Materials Research Express, 6: 115301, 2019 (ISI)
Academic year of acceptance: 

In this study, the mechanical and thermal properties of 3D printed Poly (lactic-acid) (PLA) and its composites are experimentally evaluated. The specimens were prepared using the Makerbot Replicator + through Fused Deposition modelling (FDM). This study primarily focus on developing a polymer based material which is safer and cleaner for various engineering/domestic applications where reusability is usually minimum. Initially, adopting ASTM D-638 standards a comparative study was performed to assess the mechanical strengths of pure polymers such as PLA, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), Glycol modified Polyethylene teraphthalate (PET-G) and Polycarbonate (PC). Further, the study was extended to the composites of PLA like PLA + 30% nylon glass fibers, PLA + 10% carbon fibers and PLA + PET-G polymer blend, as well. Meanwhile, experimentation to assess the thermal properties like, thermal degradation temperature, glass transition temperature, melting temperature and crystallization temperature were also performed through Thermo-Gravimetric Analysis (TGA) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) tests. The results from this study reveal that in contrast to non-biodegradable ABS and PC, superior mechanical properties were displayed by PLA. Further, the polymer blend of PLA + PET-G would be an optimal choice where mechanical strength and thermal properties are of equal concern. Meanwhile, PLA + 30% glass fibers can provide excellent thermal stability and can be used where primary importance is given for thermal stability over mechanical strength. Therefore, it can be concluded that along with these advantages, the biodegradable nature of PLA justifies the cause of using these materials for the intended applications without harming human health and reducing pollution to a great extent.