Eco-friendly Lightweight Filament Synthesis and Mechanical Characterization of Additively Manufactured Closed Cell Foams

Balu Patil a, B.R. Bharath Kumar b, Srikanth Bontha c, Vamsi Krishna Balla d, Satvasheel Powar e, V. Hemanth Kumar f, S.N. Suresha f, Mrityunjay Doddamani a

a Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal, India
b Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jain College of Engineering and Technology, Hubballi, India
c Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal, India
d Bioceramics and Coating Division, CSIR-Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata, India
e School of Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India
f Advanced Asphalt Characterisation and Rheology Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Karnataka, India

Abstract

Environmentally pollutant fly ash cenospheres (hollow microballoons) are utilized with most widely consumed, relatively expensive high density polyethylene (HDPE) for developing lightweight eco-friendly filament for 3D printing of closed cell foams. Cenospheres (20, 40 and 60 by volume %) are blended with HDPE and subsequently extruded in filament to be used for 3D printing. Cenosphere/HDPE blends are studied for melt flow index (MFI) and rheological properties. MFI decreases with cenospheres addition. Complex viscosity, storage and loss modulus increase with filler loading. DSC results on the filament and printed samples reveal increasing crystallization temperature and decreasing crystallinity % with no appreciable change in peak melting temperature. Cooling rate variations exhibit crystallinity differences between the filament and the prints. CTE decreases with increasing cenosphere content resulting in lower thermal stresses and under diffusion of raster leading to nonwarped prints. Micrography on freeze fractured filament and prints show cenospheres uniform distribution in HDPE. Intact cenospheres lower the foam density making it lightweight. Tensile tests are carried out on filaments and printed samples while flexural properties are investigated for 3D prints. Cenospheres addition resulted in improved tensile modulus and decreased filament strength. Tensile and flexural modulus of printed foams increases with filler content. Results are also compared with injection molded samples. Printed foams registered comparable tensile strength. Specific tensile modulus is noted to be increased with cenospheres loading implying weight saving potential of 3D printed foams. Property map reveals printed foams advantage over other fillers and HDPE composites synthesized through injection and compression molding.

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