Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360). This special issue belongs to the section "Polymer Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 April 2024) | Viewed by 35039

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli”—INCAS, Bucharest, Romania
Interests: polymeric composites; nanocomposites; aerospace materials; circular economy; sustainability; mechanical properties
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
1. Department of Science and Engineering of Oxide Materials and Nanomaterials, Faculty of Applied Chemistry and Materials Science, University Politehnica of Bucharest, 1-7 Gh. Polizu St., 011061 Bucharest, Romania
2. Academy of Romanian Scientists, 54 Splaiul Independenței St., Bucharest, Romania
Interests: bio(nano)materials; synthesis methods; materials processing and design; advanced coatings; tissue engineering; drug delivery; characterization methods
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last decade, additive manufacturing’s ability to produce customized parts with complex shapes has led to increased global demand for this technology as a manufacturing solution in various fields of engineering, from consumer goods, medicine, electronics, and construction to automotives and aerospace. Three-dimensional-printing-based technologies using polymeric materials offer cost-effectiveness, customized geometries, complex design, high-precision manufacturing, and reduced processing time while using highly sustainable materials.

This Special Issue aims to gather the latest research in the field of 3D-printed polymers designed for application in the fields in which this technology attracts the most attention and interest. Papers are expected to take experimental or simulation approaches to challenges in polymer and polymeric composite 3D printing techniques that are encountered in each engineering field. Overcoming 3D printing challenges will greatly contribute to advancing development in topics related to transport, engineering, medicine, and the environment. This Special Issue will focus on both fundamental and applied research aimed at the development, characterization, and application of polymers for 3D printing technologies implemented in, but not limited to: aerospace, automotives, construction, medicine, prototyping, and consumer goods (including electronics, sports, devices, spare parts, etc.).

Dr. Cristina-Elisabeta Pelin
Prof. Dr. Anton Ficai
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • 3D printing
  • thermoplastic polymers
  • thermoset polymers
  • polymeric (nano)composites
  • additive manufacturing methods and processing
  • mechanical properties
  • transport applications
  • medical applications
  • rapid prototyping
  • 3D printing design solutions

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Published Papers (24 papers)

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17 pages, 2389 KiB  
Article
Selection and Optimization of Carbon-Reinforced Polyether Ether Ketone Process Parameters in 3D Printing—A Rotating Component Application
by Raja Subramani, Praveenkumar Vijayakumar, Maher Ali Rusho, Anil Kumar, Karthik Venkitaraman Shankar and Arun Kumar Thirugnanasambandam
Polymers 2024, 16(10), 1443; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16101443 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 296
Abstract
The selection of process parameters is crucial in 3D printing for product manufacturing. These parameters govern the operation of production machinery and influence the mechanical properties, production time, and other aspects of the final product. The optimal process parameter settings vary depending on [...] Read more.
The selection of process parameters is crucial in 3D printing for product manufacturing. These parameters govern the operation of production machinery and influence the mechanical properties, production time, and other aspects of the final product. The optimal process parameter settings vary depending on the product and printing application. This study identifies the most suitable cluster of process parameters for producing rotating components, specifically impellers, using carbon-reinforced Polyether Ether Ketone (CF-PEEK) thermoplastic filament. A mathematical programming technique using a rating method was employed to select the appropriate process parameters. The research concludes that an infill density of 70%, a layer height of 0.15 mm, a printing speed of 60 mm/s, a platform temperature of 195 °C, an extruder temperature of 445 °C, and an extruder travel speed of 95 mm/s are optimal process parameters for manufacturing rotating components using carbon-reinforced PEEK material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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22 pages, 9034 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Powder Re-Use on the Coalescence Behaviour and Isothermal Crystallisation Kinetics of Polyamide 12 within Powder Bed Fusion
by Benjamin Sanders, Edward Cant, Catherine A. Kelly and Michael Jenkins
Polymers 2024, 16(5), 612; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16050612 - 23 Feb 2024
Viewed by 672
Abstract
Polymer powder bed fusion (PBF) is becoming increasingly popular for the fabrication of lightweight, high-performance parts, particularly for medical and aerospace applications. This study investigates the effect of powder re-use and material aging on the coalescence behaviour, melt flowability, and isothermal crystallisation kinetics [...] Read more.
Polymer powder bed fusion (PBF) is becoming increasingly popular for the fabrication of lightweight, high-performance parts, particularly for medical and aerospace applications. This study investigates the effect of powder re-use and material aging on the coalescence behaviour, melt flowability, and isothermal crystallisation kinetics of polyamide-12 (PA-12) powder. With increased powder re-use, a progressive reduction in melt flowability and material coalescence is observed; at 200 °C, the particle consolidation time increases from 15 s in virgin powder to 180 s in powder recovered from build 6. The observed changes in the behaviour of PA-12 were attributed to polycondensation and cross-linking; these aging phenomena also create structural defects, which hinder the rate and extent of primary crystallisation. At an isothermal crystallisation temperature of 165 °C, the crystallisation half-time increased from 12.78 min in virgin powder to 23.95 min in powder re-used across six build cycles. As a result, the commonly used Avrami model was found to be unsuitable for modelling the crystallisation behaviour of aged PA-12 powder, with the co-efficient of determination (R2) reducing from >0.995 for virgin powder to as low as 0.795 for re-used powder. On the other hand, an alternative method, the Hay model, is able to successfully track full phase transformation within re-used powder (R2 > 0.99). These results highlight the importance of selecting the most appropriate model for analysing the crystallisation kinetics of PA-12 powder re-used across multiple build cycles. This understanding is crucial for obtaining the strong mechanical properties and dimensional precision required for the fabrication of functional, end-use parts within PBF. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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14 pages, 2775 KiB  
Article
Investigation of an Optimal Material Addition Rate for Energy Consumption and Dimensional Accuracy in Fused Filament Fabrication of CFR-PEEK
by Kyudong Kim, Kijung Park and Hyun Woo Jeon
Polymers 2024, 16(4), 492; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16040492 - 9 Feb 2024
Viewed by 650
Abstract
The material addition rate (MAR) of fused filament fabrication (FFF) is an indicator of process efficiency varied by process parameter settings, which affects energy consumption and part quality in FFF. This study aims to identify the optimal MAR of FFF using carbon-fiber-reinforced polyether-ether-ketone [...] Read more.
The material addition rate (MAR) of fused filament fabrication (FFF) is an indicator of process efficiency varied by process parameter settings, which affects energy consumption and part quality in FFF. This study aims to identify the optimal MAR of FFF using carbon-fiber-reinforced polyether-ether-ketone (CFR-PEEK) by considering a trade-off between energy consumption and the dimensional accuracy of FFF outputs. A design of experiments considering two main process parameters is planned to print three sample types through FFF for CFR-PEEK. Then, the MAR (i.e., deposited material volume per build time) of FFF is obtained to derive individual regression models of energy consumption and the dimensional accuracy measured for each sample type. Furthermore, a trade-off between energy consumption and dimensional accuracy on the MAR is formulated to derive an optimal MAR for each sample type. The results show that FFF for CFR-PEEK has a trade-off between energy consumption and dimensional accuracy; there exists a specific MAR that maximizes the overall performance of energy consumption and dimensional accuracy for each sample type. The optimal MAR is the highest for the small volume sample, whereas it becomes the lowest for the vertical build orientation sample. This study suggests that the optimal MAR should be flexibly adjusted based on a fabricated part. The findings from this study also address the fact that decision-making for optimal FFF operations needs a transition from the identification of specific process parameter settings to the management of a proper process efficiency level in FFF. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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24 pages, 6548 KiB  
Article
Durability of Ultem 9085 in Marine Environments: A Consideration in Fused Filament Fabrication of Structural Components
by Xiong (Julia) Wang, Carly Travis, Mark T. Sorna and Dwayne Arola
Polymers 2024, 16(3), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16030350 - 28 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1113
Abstract
The long-term durability of polymer components produced by additive manufacturing (AM) in marine conditions is poorly understood. Here, fused filament fabrication (FFF) of Ultem 9085 was conducted and accelerated aging was performed. Two printing orientations (−45/45° and 0/90°) and two sample types (ASTM [...] Read more.
The long-term durability of polymer components produced by additive manufacturing (AM) in marine conditions is poorly understood. Here, fused filament fabrication (FFF) of Ultem 9085 was conducted and accelerated aging was performed. Two printing orientations (−45/45° and 0/90°) and two sample types (ASTM D638 Type 1 and Type 4) were produced and subjected to accelerated aging in either seawater or air. Results from tensile tests showed that the elastic modulus, yield strength and ultimate tensile strength increased after seawater aging, whereas the elongation to failure decreased. Results of thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and derivative–TGA curves indicated that hydrolysis occurred after seawater exposure to the polycarbonate (PC) component and changes in structure or hydrogen bonds formed in the polyetherimide (PEI) component. Differential scanning calorimetry showed that physical aging occurred after short exposure periods and low temperature. Longer exposures and higher temperatures resulted in increasing plasticization by water and scission of the PC molecules. Results from Raman suggest that hydrolysis of the PC occurred, with a reduction in free volume produced by physical aging or hydrogen bonding with water molecules. These results highlight that Ultem 9085 is susceptible to degradation in marine environments, and there are two primary mechanisms, including physical and chemical aging. Their specific contribution is highly sensitive to the aging temperature and require careful selection in accelerated aging evaluations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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14 pages, 4311 KiB  
Article
Experimental Study on Warpage Phenomenon of Wax Parts Manufactured by Fused Filament Fabrication
by Muslim Mukhtarkhanov, Essam Shehab and Md. Hazrat Ali
Polymers 2024, 16(2), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16020208 - 11 Jan 2024
Viewed by 766
Abstract
Warpage is one of the prominent issues in Fused Filament Fabrication. The cause of this is the rapid cooling of the polymer during extrusion. The residual thermal stresses accumulated within the print part result in a shape distortion and subsequent detachment of the [...] Read more.
Warpage is one of the prominent issues in Fused Filament Fabrication. The cause of this is the rapid cooling of the polymer during extrusion. The residual thermal stresses accumulated within the print part result in a shape distortion and subsequent detachment of the object from the print bed. In this study, both experimental and numerical approaches were used to identify the stresses due to thermal shrinking that occurs in soft polymers such as wax. A temperature sweep test was performed using a rotational rheometer to measure the magnitude of axial forces that are generated due to the thermal shrinking of a thin layer of 3D printable wax. The thermal stresses responsible for warpage were computed analytically and using the FEA. It was found that due to thermal processes, the stress magnitude can reach a value of 1.17 MPa. This value is enough to cause the plastic deformation in the wax part having a thin elongated shape. In addition, Taguchi’s robust design has identified two major FFF parameters that impact the warpage in amorphous soft polymers. They are the printing speed and the print bed temperature. To achieve a low level of warpage, it is important to make sure that the layer deposition occurs at medium speeds and the print bed temperature is moderately high according to the findings of this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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20 pages, 9973 KiB  
Article
Quality Analysis of Micro-Holes Made by Polymer Jetting Additive Manufacturing
by Razvan Udroiu
Polymers 2024, 16(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16010032 - 21 Dec 2023
Viewed by 814
Abstract
Material jetting technology is gaining popularity, especially in polymer science, because of their high accuracy for additive manufacturing (AM) products. This paper aims to investigate the quality of micro-holes that are oriented in three basic directions, and manufactured by the material jetting AM [...] Read more.
Material jetting technology is gaining popularity, especially in polymer science, because of their high accuracy for additive manufacturing (AM) products. This paper aims to investigate the quality of micro-holes that are oriented in three basic directions, and manufactured by the material jetting AM process. This paper proposes a novel methodology to evaluate the accuracy of micro-holes features by using a transparent artifact. A test artifact with horizontal and vertical micro-holes in it, with industrial applications, was designed. Micro-holes were placed on planar and curve surfaces. Samples were manufactured by PolyJet technology from a translucent photopolymer resin which allows a facile investigation (by microscopy) of the inner structure of the micro-holes. The features of ten micro-holes printed in matte and glossy finish type, with diameters in coarse and medium options, according to ISO/ASTM 52902, were analyzed. Quality analysis of the micro-holes features was performed by microscopy investigations. The effects of main factors on the deviation of the micro-hole diameter were investigated by using the statistical design of experiments, and four control factors were considered. The best results were obtained for sample printed in matte finishing with the micro-holes oriented along the x-axis and z-axis. The smallest diameter of the micro-holes obtained by PolyJet technology on an EDEN 350 machine was 0.5 mm, but in industrial applications for a facile post-processing, a higher diameter is recommended to be used. A confirmatory experiment on a wing sample, with a number of micro-holes of the same diameter and a large length to diameter ratio of the micro-holes, was performed, and the repeatability of the results was confirmed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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16 pages, 3138 KiB  
Article
Mechanical and Wear Studies of Boron Nitride-Reinforced Polymer Composites Developed via 3D Printing Technology
by Ramaiah Keshavamurthy, Vijay Tambrallimath, Swetha Patil, Ali A. Rajhi, Alaauldeen A. Duhduh and T. M. Yunus Khan
Polymers 2023, 15(22), 4368; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15224368 - 9 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1007
Abstract
In the realm of 3D printing, polymers serve as fundamental materials offering versatility to cater to a diverse array of final product properties and tailored to the specific needs of the creator. Polymers, as the building blocks of 3D printing, inherently possess certain [...] Read more.
In the realm of 3D printing, polymers serve as fundamental materials offering versatility to cater to a diverse array of final product properties and tailored to the specific needs of the creator. Polymers, as the building blocks of 3D printing, inherently possess certain mechanical and wear properties that may fall short of ideal. To address this limitation, the practice of reinforcing polymer matrices with suitable materials has become a common approach. One such reinforcement material is boron nitride (BN), lauded for its remarkable mechanical attributes. The integration of BN as a reinforcing element has yielded substantial enhancements in the properties of polylactic acid (PLA). The central objective of this research endeavor is the development of polymer composites based on PLA and fortified with boron nitride. This study undertakes the comprehensive exploration of the compatibility and synergy between BN and PLA with a keen focus on examining their resultant properties. To facilitate this, various percentages of boron nitride were incorporated into the PLA matrix, specifically at 5% and 10% by weight. The compounding process involved the blending of PLA and boron nitride followed by the creation of composite filaments measuring 1.75 mm in diameter and optimized for 3D printing. Subsequently, test specimens were meticulously fabricated in adherence with ASTM standards to evaluate the ultimate tensile strength, dimensional accuracy, wear characteristics, and surface roughness. The findings from these assessments were systematically compared to the wear properties and mechanical behavior of PLA composites reinforced with boron nitride and the unreinforced PLA material. This study serves as a foundational resource that offers insights into the feasibility and methodologies of incorporating boron nitride into PLA matrices, paving the way for enhanced polymer composite development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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29 pages, 10693 KiB  
Article
Influence of Three-Dimensional Printing Parameters on Compressive Properties and Surface Smoothness of Polylactic Acid Specimens
by Hamed Bakhtiari, Mostafa Nikzad and Majid Tolouei-Rad
Polymers 2023, 15(18), 3827; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15183827 - 19 Sep 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1167
Abstract
While the mechanical performance of fused filament fabrication (FFF) parts has been extensively studied in terms of the tensile and bending strength, limited research accounts for their compressive performance. This study investigates the effect of four process parameters (layer height, extrusion width, nozzle [...] Read more.
While the mechanical performance of fused filament fabrication (FFF) parts has been extensively studied in terms of the tensile and bending strength, limited research accounts for their compressive performance. This study investigates the effect of four process parameters (layer height, extrusion width, nozzle temperature, and printing speed) on the compressive properties and surface smoothness of FFF parts made of Polylactic Acid (PLA). The orthogonal Taguchi method was employed for designing the experiments. The surface roughness and compressive properties of the specimens were then measured and optimized using the analysis of variance (ANOVA). A microscopic analysis was also performed to identify the failure mechanism under static compression. The results indicated that the layer height had the most significant influence on all studied properties, followed by the print speed in the case of compressive modulus, hysteresis loss, and residual strain; extrusion width in the case of compressive strength and specific strength; and nozzle temperature in the case of toughness and failure strain. The optimal design for both high compressive properties and surface smoothness were determined as a 0.05 mm layer height, 0.65 mm extrusion width, 205 °C nozzle temperature, and 70 mm/s print speed. The main failure mechanism observed by SEM analysis was delamination between layers, occurring at highly stressed points near the stitch line of the PLA prints. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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15 pages, 4137 KiB  
Article
Finite Element Analysis of Patient-Specific 3D-Printed Cranial Implant Manufactured with PMMA and PEEK: A Mechanical Comparative Study
by Freddy P. Moncayo-Matute, Efrén Vázquez-Silva, Pablo G. Peña-Tapia, Paúl B. Torres-Jara, Diana P. Moya-Loaiza and Tony J. Viloria-Ávila
Polymers 2023, 15(17), 3620; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15173620 - 1 Sep 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1789
Abstract
This article reports on a patient who required a cranial protection system. Using additive manufacturing techniques and surgical planning with the help of bio-models, a patient-specific bone implant solution was proposed that allows aesthetic restoration of the affected area and provides an adequate [...] Read more.
This article reports on a patient who required a cranial protection system. Using additive manufacturing techniques and surgical planning with the help of bio-models, a patient-specific bone implant solution was proposed that allows aesthetic restoration of the affected area and provides an adequate level of protection. In addition, through a comparative analysis with finite elements, the mechanical response to external actions of the medical device, printed with two materials: polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and polyether-ether-ketone (PEEK), is simulated. The tested materials have recognized biocompatibility properties, but their costs on the market differ significantly. The results obtained demonstrate the similarities in the responses of both materials. It offers the possibility that low-income people can access these devices, guaranteeing adequate biomechanical safety, considering that PMMA is a much cheaper material than PEEK. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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19 pages, 4911 KiB  
Article
Tensile Behavior of Chain Links Made of Polymeric Materials Manufactured by 3D Printing
by Bruno Rădulescu, Andrei Marius Mihalache, Emilian Păduraru, Adelina Hriţuc, Mara Cristina Rădulescu, Laurenţiu Slătineanu and Vasile Ermolai
Polymers 2023, 15(15), 3178; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15153178 - 26 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1027
Abstract
For reduced mechanical stress, some chains with links made of metallic materials could be replaced by chains made of polymeric materials. A lower weight and a higher corrosion resistance would characterize such chains. From this point of view, research on the behavior of [...] Read more.
For reduced mechanical stress, some chains with links made of metallic materials could be replaced by chains made of polymeric materials. A lower weight and a higher corrosion resistance would characterize such chains. From this point of view, research on the behavior of chain links made of polymeric materials under the action of tensile stresses can become important. Modeling by the finite element method highlighted some specific aspects of the behavior of a chain link subjected to tensile stresses. Later, we resorted to the manufacture by 3D printing of some chain links from four distinct polymeric materials, with the modification of the size of the chain link and, respectively, of the values of some of the input factors in the 3D printing process. The tensile strength of the chain links was determined using specialized equipment. The experimental results were processed mathematically to determine some empirical mathematical models that highlight the influence of the values of the input factors in the 3D printing process on the tensile strength of the samples in the form of chain links. It thus became possible to compare the results obtained for the four polymeric materials considered and identify the polymeric material that provides the highest tensile strength of the sample in the form of a chain link. The results of the experimental research showed that the highest mechanical resistance was obtained in the case of the links made of polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG). According to experimental results, when tested under identical conditions, PETG links can break for a force value of 40.9 N. In comparison, polylactic acid links will break for a force value of 4.70 N. Links printed in the horizontal position were almost 9-fold stronger than those printed in the vertical position. Under the same test conditions, according to the determined empirical mathematical models, PETG links printed in a horizontal position will break for a force of 300.8 N, while links printed in a vertical position will break for force values of 35.8 N. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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18 pages, 10038 KiB  
Article
Effects of Different Polypropylene (PP)-Backbones in Aluminium Feedstock for Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
by Vahid Momeni, Zahra Shahroodi, Joamin Gonzalez-Gutierrez, Lukas Hentschel, Ivica Duretek, Stephan Schuschnigg, Christian Kukla and Clemens Holzer
Polymers 2023, 15(14), 3007; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15143007 - 11 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1343
Abstract
The current study presents the effect of the backbone as an important binder component on the mechanical, rheological, and thermal properties of Aluminium (Al) alloy feedstocks. A thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) main binder component was blended with either polypropylene (PP), grafted-maleic anhydride-PP (PPMA), or [...] Read more.
The current study presents the effect of the backbone as an important binder component on the mechanical, rheological, and thermal properties of Aluminium (Al) alloy feedstocks. A thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) main binder component was blended with either polypropylene (PP), grafted-maleic anhydride-PP (PPMA), or grafted-maleic anhydride-PPwax (PPMAwax) plus PP, as the backbone. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) tests were performed to investigate the thermal properties of binder systems and feedstocks. Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used to study the chemical interaction between the binder and the Al alloy. After making feedstock filaments, tensile tests, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and fused filament fabrication (FFF) printing were done. The results showed that although the PP printability was acceptable, the best mechanical properties and printed quality can be achieved by PPMA. TGA test showed that all binder systems in the feedstocks could be removed completely around 500 °C. From FTIR, the possibility of chemical reactions between Al alloy particles and maleic anhydride groups on the grafted PP backbone could explain the better dispersion of the mixture and higher mechanical properties. Tensile strength in PP samples was 3.4 MPa which was improved 1.8 times using PPMA as the backbone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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17 pages, 5606 KiB  
Article
Investigations on the Fatigue Behavior of 3D-Printed and Thermoformed Polylactic Acid Wrist–Hand Orthoses
by Diana Popescu, Florin Baciu, Daniel Vlăsceanu, Rodica Marinescu and Dan Lăptoiu
Polymers 2023, 15(12), 2737; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15122737 - 19 Jun 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1903
Abstract
Additively manufactured wrist–hand orthoses (3DP-WHOs) offer several advantages over traditional splints and casts, but their development based on a patient’s 3D scans currently requires advanced engineering skills, while also recording long manufacturing times as they are commonly built in a vertical position. A [...] Read more.
Additively manufactured wrist–hand orthoses (3DP-WHOs) offer several advantages over traditional splints and casts, but their development based on a patient’s 3D scans currently requires advanced engineering skills, while also recording long manufacturing times as they are commonly built in a vertical position. A proposed alternative involves 3D printing the orthoses as a flat model base and then thermoforming them to fit the patient’s forearm. This manufacturing approach is faster, cost-effective and allows easier integration of flexible sensors as an example. However, it is unknown whether these flat-shaped 3DP-WHOs offer similar mechanical resistance as the 3D-printed hand-shaped orthoses, with a lack of research in this area being revealed by the literature review. To evaluate the mechanical properties of 3DP-WHOs produced using the two approaches, three-point bending tests and flexural fatigue tests were conducted. The results showed that both types of orthoses had similar stiffness up to 50 N, but the vertically built orthoses failed at a maximum load of 120 N, while the thermoformed orthoses could withstand up to 300 N with no damages observed. The integrity of the thermoformed orthoses was maintained after 2000 cycles at 0.5 Hz and ±2.5 mm displacement. It was observed that the minimum force occurring during fatigue tests was approximately −95 N. After 1100–1200 cycles, it reached −110 N and remained constant. The outcomes of this study are expected to enhance the trust that hand therapists, orthopedists, and patients have in using thermoformable 3DP-WHOs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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21 pages, 10394 KiB  
Article
A Regression Approach to Model Refractive Index Measurements of Novel 3D Printable Photocurable Resins for Micro-Optofluidic Applications
by Lorena Saitta, Emanuela Cutuli, Giovanni Celano, Claudio Tosto, Giovanna Stella, Gianluca Cicala and Maide Bucolo
Polymers 2023, 15(12), 2690; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15122690 - 15 Jun 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1687
Abstract
In this work, a quadratic polynomial regression model was developed to aid practitioners in the determination of the refractive index value of transparent 3D printable photocurable resins usable for micro-optofluidic applications. The model was experimentally determined by correlating empirical optical transmission measurements (the [...] Read more.
In this work, a quadratic polynomial regression model was developed to aid practitioners in the determination of the refractive index value of transparent 3D printable photocurable resins usable for micro-optofluidic applications. The model was experimentally determined by correlating empirical optical transmission measurements (the dependent variable) to known refractive index values (the independent variable) of photocurable materials used in optics, thus obtaining a related regression equation. In detail, a novel, simple, and cost-effective experimental setup is proposed in this study for the first time for collecting the transmission measurements of smooth 3D printed samples (roughness ranging between 0.04 and 2 μm). The model was further used to determine the unknown refractive index value of novel photocurable resins applicable in vat photopolymerization (VP) 3D printing techniques for manufacturing micro-optofluidic (MoF) devices. In the end, this study proved how knowledge of this parameter allowed us to compare and interpret collected empirical optical data from microfluidic devices made of more traditional materials, i.e., Poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), up to novel 3D printable photocurable resins suitable for biological and biomedical applications. Thus, the developed model also provides a quick method to evaluate the suitability of novel 3D printable resins for MoF device fabrication within a well-defined range of refractive index values (1.56; 1.70). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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25 pages, 11235 KiB  
Article
Three-Dimensional Printable Flexible Piezoelectric Composites with Energy Harvesting Features
by Mihaela Aradoaei, Romeo C. Ciobanu, Cristina Schreiner, Marius Paulet, Alina R. Caramitu, Jana Pintea and Mihaela Baibarac
Polymers 2023, 15(11), 2548; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15112548 - 31 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1287
Abstract
The purpose of this work was to obtain an elastic composite material from polymer powders (polyurethane and polypropylene) with the addition of BaTiO3 until 35% with tailored dielectric and piezoelectric features. The filament extruded from the composite material was very elastic but [...] Read more.
The purpose of this work was to obtain an elastic composite material from polymer powders (polyurethane and polypropylene) with the addition of BaTiO3 until 35% with tailored dielectric and piezoelectric features. The filament extruded from the composite material was very elastic but had good features to be used for 3D printing applications. It was technically demonstrated that the 3D thermal deposition of composite filament with 35% BaTiO3 was a convenient process for achieving tailored architectures to be used as devices with functionality as piezoelectric sensors. Finally, the functionality of such 3D printable flexible piezoelectric devices with energy harvesting features was demonstrated, which can be used in various biomedical devices (as wearable electronics or intelligent prosthesis), generating enough energy to make such devices completely autonomous only by exploiting body movements at variable low frequencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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21 pages, 21838 KiB  
Article
Experimental Study of In-Process Heat Treatment on the Mechanical Properties of 3D Printed Thermoplastic Polymer PLA
by Ioan Tamașag, Irina Beșliu-Băncescu, Traian-Lucian Severin, Constantin Dulucheanu and Delia-Aurora Cerlincă
Polymers 2023, 15(10), 2367; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15102367 - 18 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1547
Abstract
The scientific literature regarding additive manufacturing, mainly the material extrusion method, suggests that the mechanical characteristics of the parts obtained by this technology depend on a number of the input factors specific to the printing process, such as printing temperature, printing trajectory, layer [...] Read more.
The scientific literature regarding additive manufacturing, mainly the material extrusion method, suggests that the mechanical characteristics of the parts obtained by this technology depend on a number of the input factors specific to the printing process, such as printing temperature, printing trajectory, layer height, etc., and also on the post-process operations for parts, which, unfortunately, requires supplementary setups, equipment, and multiple steps that raise the overall costs. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate the influence of the printing direction, the thickness of the deposited material layer, and the temperature of the previously deposited material layer on the part tensile strength, hardness by means of Shore D and Martens hardness, and surface finish by using an in-process annealing method. A Taguchi L9 DOE plan was developed for this purpose, where the test specimens, with dimensions according to ISO 527-2 type B, were analysed. The results showed that the presented in-process treatment method is possible and could lead to sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing processes. The varied input factors influenced all the studied parameters. Tensile strength tended to increase, up to 12.5%, when the in-process heat treatment was applied, showed a positive linear variation with nozzle diameter, and presented considerable variations with the printing direction. Shore D and Martens hardness had similar variations, and it could be observed that by applying the mentioned in-process heat treatment, the overall values tended to decrease. Printing direction had a negligible impact on the additively manufactured parts’ hardness. At the same time, the nozzle diameter presented considerable variations, up to 36% for Martens hardness and 4% for Shore D, when higher diameter nozzles were used. The ANOVA analysis highlighted that the statistically significant factors were the nozzle diameter for the part’s hardness and the printing direction for the tensile strength. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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21 pages, 9479 KiB  
Article
Influence of 3D Printing Conditions on Some Physical–Mechanical and Technological Properties of PCL Wood-Based Polymer Parts Manufactured by FDM
by Irina Beșliu-Băncescu, Ioan Tamașag and Laurențiu Slătineanu
Polymers 2023, 15(10), 2305; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15102305 - 14 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1899
Abstract
The paper investigates the influence of some 3D printing conditions on some physical–mechanical and technological properties of polycaprolactone (PCL) wood-based biopolymer parts manufactured by FDM. Parts with 100% infill and the geometry according to ISO 527 Type 1B were printed on a semiprofessional [...] Read more.
The paper investigates the influence of some 3D printing conditions on some physical–mechanical and technological properties of polycaprolactone (PCL) wood-based biopolymer parts manufactured by FDM. Parts with 100% infill and the geometry according to ISO 527 Type 1B were printed on a semiprofessional desktop FDM printer. A full factorial design with three independent variables at three levels was considered. Some physical–mechanical properties (weight error, fracture temperature, ultimate tensile strength) and technological properties (top and lateral surface roughness, cutting machinability) were experimentally assessed. For the surface texture analysis, a white light interferometer was used. Regression equations for some of the investigated parameters were obtained and analysed. Higher printing speeds than those usually reported in the existing literature dealing with wood-based polymers’ 3D printing had been tested. Overall, the highest level chosen for the printing speed positively influenced the surface roughness and the ultimate tensile strength of the 3D-printed parts. The cutting machinability of the printed parts was investigated by means of cutting force criteria. The results showed that the PCL wood-based polymer analysed in this study had lower machinability than natural wood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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16 pages, 9146 KiB  
Article
Effect of Short Carbon Fiber Reinforcement on Mechanical Properties of 3D-Printed Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
by Evgeniy Lobov, Anastasia Dobrydneva, Ilia Vindokurov and Mikhail Tashkinov
Polymers 2023, 15(9), 2011; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15092011 - 24 Apr 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1717
Abstract
The effect of short carbon fiber (SCF) filler on the mechanical properties of 3D-printed acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) was investigated. The fused filament fabrication (FFF) method was used for the manufacturing of samples. Elastic properties and strength characteristics of samples made of conventional [...] Read more.
The effect of short carbon fiber (SCF) filler on the mechanical properties of 3D-printed acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) was investigated. The fused filament fabrication (FFF) method was used for the manufacturing of samples. Elastic properties and strength characteristics of samples made of conventional ABS and SCF-reinforced ABS were compared in tensile and bending tests. Fracture toughness and critical strain energy release rate were also determined. In addition, 3D-printed monofilament SCF-reinforced samples were fabricated, the internal structure of which was analyzed using microcomputed tomography (micro-CT). Based on the tomography data, finite-element (FE) models of representative volume elements (RVEs) of the reinforced material were created and used for the numerical calculation of effective characteristics. Numerical and experimental results for the effective elastic properties were compared with the Mori-Tanaka homogenization technique. The ABS samples filled with SCF showed considerably higher mechanical characteristics than those of the conventional ABS. Finally, the dependence between the strength characteristics and elastic properties of the samples on the diameter of the nozzle used for 3D printing was established. 3D-printed ABS reinforced with SCF demonstrated a gain in tensile strength and fracture toughness by 30% and 20%, respectively. Interlayer adhesion strength in flexure tests showed an increase of 28% compared to pure ABS samples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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16 pages, 9203 KiB  
Article
Effect of UV-C Radiation on 3D Printed ABS-PC Polymers
by Catalin Gheorghe Amza, Aurelian Zapciu, Florin Baciu and Constantin Radu
Polymers 2023, 15(8), 1966; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15081966 - 21 Apr 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2692
Abstract
During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities experienced severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies. Employing 3D printing to rapidly fabricate functional parts and equipment was one of the emergency solutions used to tackle these shortages. [...] Read more.
During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities experienced severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies. Employing 3D printing to rapidly fabricate functional parts and equipment was one of the emergency solutions used to tackle these shortages. Using ultraviolet light in the UV-C band (wavelengths of 200 nm to 280 nm) might prove useful in sterilizing 3D printed parts, enabling their reusability. Most polymers, however, degrade under UV-C radiation, so it becomes necessary to determine what 3D printing materials can withstand the conditions found during medical equipment sterilization with UV-C. This paper analyzes the effect of accelerated aging through prolonged exposure to UV-C on the mechanical properties of parts 3D printed from a polycarbonate and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene polymer (ABS-PC). Samples 3D printed using a material extrusion process (MEX) went through a 24-h UV-C exposure aging cycle and then were tested versus a control group for changes in tensile strength, compressive strength and some selected material creep characteristics. Testing showed minimal mechanical property degradation following the irradiation procedure, with tensile strength being statistically the same for irradiated parts as those in the control group. Irradiated parts showed small losses in stiffness (5.2%) and compressive strength (6.5%). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was employed in order to assess if any changes occurred in the material structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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Review

Jump to: Research

42 pages, 2273 KiB  
Review
The Use of Additive Manufacturing Techniques in the Development of Polymeric Molds: A Review
by George Pelin, Maria Sonmez and Cristina-Elisabeta Pelin
Polymers 2024, 16(8), 1055; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16081055 - 11 Apr 2024
Viewed by 879
Abstract
The continuous growth of additive manufacturing in worldwide industrial and research fields is driven by its main feature which allows the customization of items according to the customers’ requirements and limitations. There is an expanding competitiveness in the product development sector as well [...] Read more.
The continuous growth of additive manufacturing in worldwide industrial and research fields is driven by its main feature which allows the customization of items according to the customers’ requirements and limitations. There is an expanding competitiveness in the product development sector as well as applicative research that serves special-use domains. Besides the direct use of additive manufacturing in the production of final products, 3D printing is a viable solution that can help manufacturers and researchers produce their support tooling devices (such as molds and dies) more efficiently, in terms of design complexity and flexibility, timeframe, costs, and material consumption reduction as well as functionality and quality enhancements. The compatibility of the features of 3D printing of molds with the requirements of low-volume production and individual-use customized items development makes this class of techniques extremely attractive to a multitude of areas. This review paper presents a synthesis of the use of 3D-printed polymeric molds in the main applications where molds exhibit a major role, from industrially oriented ones (injection, casting, thermoforming, vacuum forming, composite fabrication) to research or single-use oriented ones (tissue engineering, biomedicine, soft lithography), with an emphasis on the benefits of using 3D-printed polymeric molds, compared to traditional tooling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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13 pages, 1191 KiB  
Review
Status of Polymer Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)-Based Three-Dimensional Printing (3DP) in the Pharmaceutical Industry
by Heba Iqbal, Queenie Fernandes, Sourour Idoudi, Renuka Basineni and Nashiru Billa
Polymers 2024, 16(3), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16030386 - 30 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1238
Abstract
Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing (3DP) is arguably a versatile and more efficient way for the production of solid dosage forms such as tablets. Of the various 3DP technologies currently available, fused deposition modeling (FDM) includes unique characteristics that offer a range [...] Read more.
Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing (3DP) is arguably a versatile and more efficient way for the production of solid dosage forms such as tablets. Of the various 3DP technologies currently available, fused deposition modeling (FDM) includes unique characteristics that offer a range of options in the production of various types of tablets. For example, amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs), enteric-coated tablets or poly pills can be produced using an appropriate drug/polymer combination during FDM 3DP. The technology offers the possibility of evolving personalized medicines into cost-effective production schemes at pharmacies and hospital dispensaries. In this review, we highlight key FDM features that may be exploited for the production of tablets and improvement of therapy, with emphasis on gastrointestinal delivery. We also highlight current constraints that must be surmounted to visualize the deployment of this technology in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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19 pages, 39787 KiB  
Review
Fabrication and Performance of Continuous 316 Stainless Steel Fibre-Reinforced 3D-Printed PLA Composites
by Alison J. Clarke, Andrew Dickson and Denis P. Dowling
Polymers 2024, 16(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16010063 - 24 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1055
Abstract
This study investigates the feasibility of 3D printing continuous stainless steel fibre-reinforced polymer composites. The printing study was carried out using 316L stainless steel fibre (SSF) bundles with an approximate diameter of 0.15 mm. This bundle was composed of 90 fibres with a [...] Read more.
This study investigates the feasibility of 3D printing continuous stainless steel fibre-reinforced polymer composites. The printing study was carried out using 316L stainless steel fibre (SSF) bundles with an approximate diameter of 0.15 mm. This bundle was composed of 90 fibres with a 14 μm diameter. This fibre bundle was first coated with polylactic acid (PLA) in order to produce a polymer-coated continuous stainless steel filament, with diameters tailored in the range from 0.5 to 0.9 mm. These filaments were then used to print composite parts using the material extrusion (MEX) technique. The SSF’s volume fraction (Vf) was controlled in the printed composite structures in the range from 4 to 30 Vf%. This was facilitated by incorporating a novel polymer pressure vent into the printer nozzle, which allowed the removal of excess polymer. This thus enabled the control of the metal fibre content within the printed composites as the print layer height was varied in the range from 0.22 to 0.48 mm. It was demonstrated that a lower layer height yielded a more homogeneous distribution of steel fibres within the PLA polymer matrix. The PLA-SSF composites were assessed to evaluate their mechanical performance, volume fraction, morphology and porosity. Composite porosities in the range of 2–21% were obtained. Mechanical testing demonstrated that the stainless steel composites exhibited a twofold increase in interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) and a fourfold increase in its tensile strength compared with the PLA-only polymer prints. When comparing the 4 and 30 Vf% composites, the latter exhibited a significant increase in both the tensile strength and modulus. The ILSS values obtained for the steel composites were up to 28.5 MPa, which is significantly higher than the approximately 13.8 MPa reported for glass fibre-reinforced PLA composites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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22 pages, 2114 KiB  
Review
Additive Manufactured Parts Produced Using Selective Laser Sintering Technology: Comparison between Porosity of Pure and Blended Polymers
by Chiara Morano and Leonardo Pagnotta
Polymers 2023, 15(22), 4446; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15224446 - 17 Nov 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1334
Abstract
For different manufacturing processes, porosity occurs in parts made using selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, representing one of the weakest points of materials produced with these processes. Even though there are different studies involving many polymeric materials employed via SLS, and different manuscripts [...] Read more.
For different manufacturing processes, porosity occurs in parts made using selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, representing one of the weakest points of materials produced with these processes. Even though there are different studies involving many polymeric materials employed via SLS, and different manuscripts in the literature that discuss the porosity occurrence in pure or blended polymers, to date, no researcher has reported a systematic and exhaustive comparison of the porosity percentage. A direct comparison of the available data may prove pivotal in advancing our understanding within the field of additively manufactured polymers. This work aims to collect and compare the results obtained by researchers who have studied SLS’s applicability to different amorphous or semi-crystalline polymers and pure or blended materials. In particular, the porosity values obtained by different researchers are compared, and tables are provided that show, for each material, the process parameters and the measured porosity values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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22 pages, 3314 KiB  
Review
Self-Healing Polymeric Materials and Composites for Additive Manufacturing
by Yixue Jiang, Evelyn Ling Ling Ng, Danielle Xinyun Han, Yinjia Yan, Siew Yin Chan, John Wang and Benjamin Qi Yu Chan
Polymers 2023, 15(21), 4206; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15214206 - 24 Oct 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2373
Abstract
Self-healing polymers have received widespread attention due to their ability to repair damage autonomously and increase material stability, reliability, and economy. However, the processability of self-healing materials has yet to be studied, limiting the application of rich self-healing mechanisms. Additive manufacturing effectively improves [...] Read more.
Self-healing polymers have received widespread attention due to their ability to repair damage autonomously and increase material stability, reliability, and economy. However, the processability of self-healing materials has yet to be studied, limiting the application of rich self-healing mechanisms. Additive manufacturing effectively improves the shortcomings of conventional processing while increasing production speed, accuracy, and complexity, offering great promise for self-healing polymer applications. This article summarizes the current self-healing mechanisms of self-healing polymers and their corresponding additive manufacturing methods, and provides an outlook on future developments in the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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21 pages, 2050 KiB  
Review
Interactions of Cells and Biomaterials for Nerve Tissue Engineering: Polymers and Fabrication
by Meaghan E. Harley-Troxell, Richard Steiner, Rigoberto C. Advincula, David E. Anderson and Madhu Dhar
Polymers 2023, 15(18), 3685; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15183685 - 7 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1816
Abstract
Neural injuries affect millions globally, significantly impacting their quality of life. The inability of these injuries to heal, limited ability to regenerate, and the lack of available treatments make regenerative medicine and tissue engineering a promising field of research for developing methods for [...] Read more.
Neural injuries affect millions globally, significantly impacting their quality of life. The inability of these injuries to heal, limited ability to regenerate, and the lack of available treatments make regenerative medicine and tissue engineering a promising field of research for developing methods for nerve repair. This review evaluates the use of natural and synthetic polymers, and the fabrication methods applied that influence a cell’s behavior. Methods include cross-linking hydrogels, incorporation of nanoparticles, and 3D printing with and without live cells. The endogenous cells within the injured area and any exogenous cells seeded on the polymer construct play a vital role in regulating healthy neural activity. This review evaluates the body’s local and systemic reactions to the implanted materials. Although numerous variables are involved, many of these materials and methods have exhibited the potential to provide a biomaterial environment that promotes biocompatibility and the regeneration of a physical and functional nerve. Future studies may evaluate advanced methods for modifying material properties and characterizing the tissue–biomaterial interface for clinical applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials and Their Application in 3D Printing)
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