Additive manufacturing of mechanical testing samples based on virgin poly (lactic acid) (PLA) and PLA/wood fibre composites
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3D printing in additive manufacturing is considered as one of key technologies to the future high-precision manufacturing in order to benefit diverse industries in building construction, product development, biomedical innovation, etc. The increasing applications of 3D printed components depend primarily on their significant merits of reduced weight, minimum used materials, high precision and shorter production time. Furthermore, it is very crucial that such 3D printed components can maintain the same or even better material performance and product quality as those achieved by conventional manufacturing methods. This study successfully fabricated 3D printed mechanical testing samples of PLA and PLA/wood fibre composites. 3D printing parameters including infill density, layer height and the number of shells were investigated via design of experiments (DoE), among which the number of shells was determined as the most significant factor for maximising tensile strengths of PLA samples. Further, DoE work evaluated the effect of material type (i.e., neat PLA and PLA/wood fibres) and the number of shells on tensile, flexural and impact strengths of material samples. It is suggested that material type is the only predominant factor for maximising all mechanical strengths, which however are consistently lower for PLA/wood fibre composites when compared with those of neat PLA. Increasing the number of shells, on the other hand, has been found to improve almost all strength levels and decrease infill cavities.
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