Additive Manufacturing of Thermoplastic Elastomer Compounds Using Fused Deposition Modeling

S.S. Banerjee, S. Burbine, N. KodihalliShivaprakash, J. Mead
University of Massachusetts, Lowell,
United States

Keywords: additive manufacturing, Fused deposition modeling, thermoplastic elastomer compound, carbon nanotubes, microstructure, properties


Additive manufacturing (AM), which is commonly referred to as 3D printing, is a highly flexible and advanced processing technique that has been applied in various applications. Fused deposition modeling (FDM), one of popular AM techniques, is most widely used for the manufacturing of plastic parts directly from computer-aided design models. However, FDM suffers from a limitation of compatible polymeric materials and typically depends upon amorphous thermoplastics. On the other hand, mechanical properties of the 3D printed parts are poor due to poor interfacial bonding of the printed layers. Hence, there is a critical need to improve mechanical properties for FDM-fabricated parts. In this work, the 3D printing process of a new thermoplastic elastomer compound using FDM with tailorable physical properties which can be customized for a given application will be presented. The thermoplastic elastomers are prepared from polypropylene (PP) and styrene ethylene butylene styrene (SEBS) block copolymers, which enable tailorable materials. The carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were added to increase the mechanical performance and conductivity of the 3D printed parts. Polypropylene grafted maleic anhydride (PP-g-MA) was used to promote the CNTs dispersion in the blends. This work included the production of filaments of the PP, SEBS and CNTs blends, printing of parts in an FDM process, and measuring properties. The effects of CNTs and PP-g-MA content on the microstructure and mechanical properties of the materials were investigated.