Nano-composite material development for 3-D printers



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Graphene possesses excellent mechanical properties with a tensile strength that may exceed 130 GPa, excellent electrical conductivity, and good thermal properties. Future nano-composites can leverage many of these material properties in an attempt to build designer materials for a broad range of applications. 3-D printing has also seen vast improvements in recent years that have allowed many companies and individuals to realize rapid prototyping for relatively low capital investment. This research sought to create a graphene reinforced, polymer matrix nano-composite that is viable in commercial 3D printer technology, study the effects of ultra-high loading percentages of graphene in polymer matrices and determine the functional upper limit for loading. Loadings varied from 5 wt. % to 50 wt. % graphene nanopowder loaded in Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) matrices. Loaded sample were characterized for their mechanical properties using three point bending, tensile tests, as well as dynamic mechanical analysis.
Results of this work showed that it is possible to synthesize graphene ABS nano-composites in loadings up to 50 wt. % utilizing thermal extrusion techniques to produce raw stock material designed for a commercial fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer. This research showed that with a non-specialized commercial 3D printer it is possible to print up to 10 wt. % parts with high quality. Proper customization to the current print head design will enable printing parts up to 50 weight percent. With the current 3D printer setup, 5 wt. % percent graphene is found to be the best choice for increasing print stiffness. 5 wt. % graphene 3D printed parts show an increase of Young’s Modulus of 146%, along with a decrease of yield strength of 24% and a reduction of the percent elongation by 44%. This study proves the feasibility of printing parts with graphene as a filler and opens the door for future designer materials to expand the 3D print technology capability.



Graphene, Nanocomposite, Three-dimensional (3-D) printing, Additive manufacturing