Mechanical Properties of 3D Printed Bio-Plastics
This project explores the feasibility and effectiveness of 3D printing biopolymers and biopolymer blends (collectively termed bioplastics) to identify processing conditions that lead to desirable properties for bioplastic filaments, such as mechanical strength, tailorable ductility, and durability. This project also investigates the feasibility of incorporating natural materials, primarily short, plant-based fibers, into bioplastic extrusions and filament forming processes to create biocomposite filaments for 3D printing applications. We will present initial mechanical test results from these bioplastics and biocomposites, including poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate)/short hemp fiber composites. One potential application for these materials is in rapid prototyping, including various plastic-based housings and supports used in the electronics industry. Bioplastics present a more environmentally sustainable alternative to plastics traditionally used in additive manufacturing, such as ABS, having similarities in strength and manufacturability to other commonly used petroleum-based thermoplastics.