3D printing can be quite sensational, with innovations continually emerging from all corners of the world. Many creations tend to be in your face, larger than life, and with the accompanying hardware to match. From entire 3D printed villages to giant statues, cars and drones, and houses, the options do seem infinitely available and exciting. But in the world of science, much that lies beneath what the naked eye can see is being propelled forward via 3D printing too, on the nanoscale.
Sharebot recently released a case study regarding 3D printed nanotubes created with the Sharebot NG, a desktop model geared toward both the research and development and educational realms. Along with that, the group of researchers involved have also published a paper on their findings. In ‘Filaments Production and Fused Deposition Modelling of ABS/Carbon Nanotubes Composites,’ authored by Sithiprumnea Dul, Luca Fambri, and Alessandro Pegoretti (Industrial Engineering department and INSTM Research Unit, Università di Trento), we find out more about how carbon nanotubes can actually improve 3D printed parts.
In this research, the key was to infuse FDM 3D printing filament with nanofillers. This provides a conductive element, with the nanoparticles making it possible to combine 3D printing with electronics; for example, the conductive nanoparticles can make it easier to fabricate the following:
- Cases with electromagnetic interference shielding performances
The researchers point out that other nanoparticles have played a part in 3D printing, but rarely with filaments in FDM printing. They used an internal mixer and a twin-screw extruder to make filament pellets that included the nanofiller, left to dry under a vacuum for two hours.
“Extensive thermal, mechanical, and electrical characterization of the obtained filaments was carried out. Afterwards, selected filaments were used to feed a high-temperature FDM 3D printer to specify the effects of CNT on the properties 3D-printed components along various build orientations,” state the researchers in their paper.
In examining the filament during research, the team found that carbon nanotubes had a positive effect on resistance for long-lasting loads, and both tensile modulus and strength was improved in filament; however, they did not find this to be the case in 3D prints that were being made in a vertical manner. There was a noted reduction in elongation, however, at the break of the composites, in direct proportion to the amount or fraction of carbon nanotubes. Thermal stability was promoted by CNT, while conductivity in their samples was reduced as samples were ‘markedly incremented.’
“Electrical conductivity of 3D-printed samples was markedly incremented but a partial loss in conductivity with respect to filament nanocomposite was also observed. Moreover, the resistivity of 3D-printed parts is highly dependent on the build microfilaments orientation, which consequently leads to different surface temperature increment under applied voltages. For FDM-printed parts, the carbon nanotubes in playing the best reinforcement in thermal mechanical behavior for HC and H45 orientation but less effective in electrical properties,” concluded the researchers.
If you would like to find out more about this research, download the paper here.
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