Fused filament fabrication (FFF) is one of the most popular additive manufacturing (AM) technologies due to its ability to build thermoplastic parts with complex geometries at low cost. The FFF technique has been mainly used for rapid prototyping owing to the poor mechanical and geometrical properties of pure thermoplastic parts. However, both the development of new fibre-reinforced filaments with improved mechanical properties, and more accurate composite 3D printers have broadened the scope of FFF applications to functional components. FFF is a complex process with a large number of parameters influencing product quality and mechanical properties, and the effects of the combined parameters are usually difficult to evaluate. An array of parameter combinations has been analysed for improving the mechanical performance of thermoplastic parts such as layer thickness, build orientation, raster angle, raster width, air gap, infill density and pattern, fibre volume fraction, fibre layer location, fibre orientation and feed rate. This study aims to assess the effects of nozzle diameter on the mechanical performance and the geometric properties of 3D printed short carbon fibre-reinforced composites processed by the FFF technique.
Design methodology approach
Tensile and three-point bending tests were performed to characterise the mechanical response of the 3D printed composite samples. The dimensional accuracy, the flatness error and surface roughness of the printed specimens were also evaluated. Moreover, manufacturing costs, which are related to printing time, were evaluated. Finally, scanning electron microscopy images of the printed samples were analysed to estimate the porosity as a function of the nozzle diameter and to justify the effect of nozzle diameter on dimensional accuracy and surface roughness.
The effect of nozzle diameter on the mechanical and geometric quality of 3D printed composite samples was significant. In addition, large nozzle diameters tended to increase mechanical performance and enhance surface roughness, with a reduction in manufacturing costs. In contrast, 3D printed composite samples with small nozzle diameter exhibited higher geometric accuracy. However, the effect of nozzle diameter on the flatness error and surface roughness was of slight significance. Finally, some print guidelines are included.
The effect of nozzle diameter, which is directly related to product quality and manufacturing costs, has not been extensively studied. The presented study provides more information regarding the dependence of the mechanical, microstructural and geometric properties of short carbon fibre-reinforced nylon composite components on nozzle diameter.
This research was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica Técnica y de Innovación) and Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deportes (Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha), under research grants PID2019-104586RB-I00, SBPLY/19/180501/000247 and SBPLY/19/180501/000170, co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund). Finally, the authors thank the referees for their valuable suggestions, which improved this article.
Chacón, J.M., Caminero, M.Á., Núñez, P.J., García-Plaza, E. and Bécar, J.P. (2021), "Effect of nozzle diameter on mechanical and geometric performance of 3D printed carbon fibre-reinforced composites manufactured by fused filament fabrication", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 769-784. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-10-2020-0250
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