In recent years, 3D printing technology has become widely accessible with the emergence of home 3D printers. These printers use a simplified version of the industrial technology thereby becoming more affordable. The most common system used in home 3D printers is extrusion, which uses a roll of filament that is pushed through a heated nozzle. This melts the filament into a thin string which is placed in layers until the 3D object is complete. The most common materials used for these types of printers are PLA (Polylactic Acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Stryene). Some companies have recently created more environmentally-friendly supplements using algae, hemp, coffee, and specialized compounds which break down and decompose naturally. Although these alternatives are unique and environmentally friendly, they lose some of the fundamental properties of 3D printing materials.
Additive manufacturing for personal use does not have a wide variety of uses. Although 3D printers can create complex three-dimensional objects, the materials used to create the objects are not ideal for undergoing stresses, hence the primary function of a home 3D printer is to create simple objects, gadgets, and models. The 3D printer prints in layers. In an ideal material, these layers would adhere to each other such that the orientation in which the object was printed could not be determined afterwards, as the object would have isotropic properties. Unfortunately, 3D printing is not that precise. In addition to the layers being naturally weaker, printers are not perfectly reliable and tend to incorrectly print some layers. Given the thinness of the layers, the overall quality of the part may not be affected; however the part itself can have weak spots between the layers. Fortunately, if the material is strong enough and has good layer adhesion, it is possible to create prints that have practical uses, such as printing a torque wrench.
This project studied various environmentally friendly substitutes to standard plastic filaments under a tensile load. The goal was to determine if some of these materials have comparable layer adhesion to the standard materials. Although some of the materials are made of unique substances, if they have poor layer adhesion, they are not ideal for creating 3D printed objects.