Three-Dimensional (3D) Printing of Polymer-Metal Hybrid Materials by Fused Deposition Modeling

Materials (Basel). 2017 Oct 19;10(10):1199. doi: 10.3390/ma10101199.


Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a three-dimensional (3D) printing technology that is usually performed with polymers that are molten in a printer nozzle and placed line by line on the printing bed or the previous layer, respectively. Nowadays, hybrid materials combining polymers with functional materials are also commercially available. Especially combinations of polymers with metal particles result in printed objects with interesting optical and mechanical properties. The mechanical properties of objects printed with two of these metal-polymer blends were compared to common poly (lactide acid) (PLA) printed objects. Tensile tests and bending tests show that hybrid materials mostly containing bronze have significantly reduced mechanical properties. Tensile strengths of the 3D-printed objects were unexpectedly nearly identical with those of the original filaments, indicating sufficient quality of the printing process. Our investigations show that while FDM printing allows for producing objects with mechanical properties similar to the original materials, metal-polymer blends cannot be used for the rapid manufacturing of objects necessitating mechanical strength.

Keywords: 3D printing; FDM technology; flexural modulus; hybrid printing materials; metal filament; tensile strength.