Design for 3D Printed Tools: Mechanical Material Properties for Direct Polymer Additive Tooling

Polymers (Basel). 2022 Apr 21;14(9):1694. doi: 10.3390/polym14091694.


In relation to the fourth industrial revolution, traditional manufacturing methods cannot serve the flexibility demands related to mass customization and small series production. Rapid tooling provided by generative manufacturing has been suggested recently in the context of metal forming. Due to the high loads applied during processes to such tooling, a purposeful mechanical description of the additively manufactured (AM) materials is crucial. Until now, a comprehensive characterization approach for AM polymers is required to allow a sophisticated layout of rapid tooling. In detail, information on compressive and flexural mechanical properties of solid infilled materials made by additive manufacturing are sparsely available. These elementary mechanical properties are evaluated in the present study. They result from material specimens additively manufactured in the fused filament fabrication (FFF) process. The design of the experiments reveals significant influences of the polymer and the layer height on the resulting flexural and compressive strength and modulus as well as density, hardness, and surface roughness. As a case study, these findings are applied to a cup drawing operation based on the strongest and weakest material and parameter combination. The obtained data and results are intended to guide future applications of direct polymer additive tooling. The presented case study illustrates such an application and shows the range of manufacturing quality achievable within the materials and user settings for 3D printing.

Keywords: FDM; FFF; additive manufacturing; additive tooling; flexibility; mass customization; metal forming; polymers; rapid tooling.