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3D printing of composites: design parameters and flexural performance

Feras Korkees (Materials Research Centre, Swansea University , Swansea, UK)
James Allenby (Materials Research Centre, Swansea University , Swansea, UK)
Peter Dorrington (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Swansea University , Swansea, UK)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 3 February 2020

Issue publication date: 14 May 2020




3D printing of composites has a high degree of design freedom, which allows for the manufacture of complex shapes that cannot be achieved with conventional manufacturing processes. This paper aims to assess the design variables that might affect the mechanical properties of 3D-printed fibre-reinforced composites.


Markforged Mark-Two printers were used to manufacture samples using nylon 6 and carbon fibres. The effect of fibre volume fraction, fibre layer location and fibre orientation has been studied using three-point flexural testing.


The flexural strength and stiffness of the 3D-printed composites increased with increasing the fibre volume fraction. The flexural properties were altered by the position of the fibre layers. The highest strength and stiffness were observed with the reinforcement evenly distributed about the neutral axis of the sample. Moreover, unidirectional fibres provided the best flexural performance compared to the other orientations. 3D printed composites also showed various failure modes under bending loads.


Despite multiple studies available on 3D-printed composites, there does not seem to be a clear understanding and consensus on how the location of the fibre layers can affect the mechanical properties and printing versatility. Therefore, this study covered this design parameter and evaluated different locations in terms of mechanical properties and printing characteristics. This is to draw final conclusions on how 3D printing may be used to manufacture cost-effective, high-quality parts with excellent mechanical performance.



Korkees, F., Allenby, J. and Dorrington, P. (2020), "3D printing of composites: design parameters and flexural performance", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 699-706.



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