Poly(lactic acid) is not only one of the most often used materials for 3D printing via fused deposition modeling (FDM), but also a shape-memory polymer. This means that objects printed from PLA can, to a certain extent, be deformed and regenerate their original shape automatically when they are heated to a moderate temperature of about 60–100 °C. It is important to note that pure PLA cannot restore broken bonds, so that it is necessary to find structures which can take up large forces by deformation without full breaks. Here we report on the continuation of previous tests on 3D-printed cubes with different infill patterns and degrees, now investigating the influence of the orientation of the applied pressure on the recovery properties. We find that for the applied gyroid pattern, indentation on the front parallel to the layers gives the worst recovery due to nearly full layer separation, while indentation on the front perpendicular to the layers or diagonal gives significantly better results. Pressing from the top, either diagonal or parallel to an edge, interestingly leads to a different residual strain than pressing from front, with indentation on top always firstly leading to an expansion towards the indenter after the first few quasi-static load tests. To quantitatively evaluate these results, new measures are suggested which could be adopted by other groups working on shape-memory polymers.
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