A Mechanical Performance Study of Dual Cured Thermoset Resin Systems 3D-Printed with Continuous Carbon Fiber Reinforcement

Polymers (Basel). 2023 Mar 10;15(6):1384. doi: 10.3390/polym15061384.


Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the fastest-growing manufacturing technologies in modern times. One of the major challenges in the application of 3D-printed polymeric objects is expanding the applications to structural components, as they are often limited by their mechanical and thermal properties. To enhance the mechanical properties of 3D-printed thermoset polymer objects, reinforcing the polymer with continuous carbon fiber (CF) tow is an expanding direction of research and development. A 3D printer was constructed capable of printing with a continuous CF-reinforced dual curable thermoset resin system. Mechanical performance of the 3D-printed composites varied with the utilization of different resin chemistries. Three different commercially available violet light curable resins were mixed with a thermal initiator to improve curing by overcoming the shadowing effect of violet light by the CF. The resulting specimens' compositions were analyzed, and then the specimens were mechanically characterized for comparison in tensile and flexural performance. The 3D-printed composites' compositions were correlated to the printing parameters and resin characteristics. Slight enhancements in tensile and flexural properties from some commercially available resins over others appeared to be the result of better wet-out and adhesion.

Keywords: 3D printing; additive manufacturing; carbon fiber; continuous fiber-reinforced composites; continuous fiber-reinforced thermoset 3D printing; dual cured composites; mechanical properties; photo curable resin; thermoset resin.