Three-Dimensional Printed PLA and PLA/PHA Dumbbell-Shaped Specimens: Material Defects and Their Impact on Degradation Behavior

Materials (Basel). 2020 Apr 24;13(8):2005. doi: 10.3390/ma13082005.


The use of (bio)degradable polymers, especially in medical applications, requires a proper understanding of their properties and behavior in various environments. Structural elements made of such polymers may be exposed to changing environmental conditions, which may cause defects. That is why it is so important to determine the effect of processing conditions on polymer properties and also their subsequent behavior during degradation. This paper presents original research on a specimen's damage during 70 days of hydrolytic degradation. During a standard hydrolytic degradation study of polylactide and polylactide/polyhydroxyalkanoate dumbbell-shaped specimens obtained by 3D printing with two different processing build directions, exhibited unexpected shrinkage phenomena in the last degradation series, representing approximately 50% of the length of the specimens irrespective of the printing direction. Therefore, the continuation of previous ex-ante research of advanced polymer materials is presented to identify any possible defects before they arise and to minimize the potential failures of novel polymer products during their use and also during degradation. Studies on the impact of a specific processing method, i.e., processing parameters and conditions, on the properties expressed in molar mass and thermal properties changes of specimens obtained by three-dimensional printing from polyester-based filaments, and in particular on the occurrence of unexpected shrinkage phenomena after post-processing heat treatment, are presented.

Keywords: (bio)degradable polyesters; defect; hydrolytic degradation; shrinkage after post-processing heat treatment; three-dimensional printing.