ETH ZÜRICH DEVELOPS CARBON FIBER RIVAL FOR DESKTOP 3D PRINTERS

3D Printing Industry | 9/19/2018 | Tia Vialva
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Wood and spider silk have inspired the development of a new desktop 3D printable material that reportedly outperforms “state-of-the-art printed polymers”. Developed by a team of researchers at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, this bioinspired material contains liquid crystal polymer (LCP) particles that rival the use of glass and carbon fiber reinforcements.

Though a common means of reinforcement, the high stiffness of glass and carbon fibers can make materials brittle. It is also difficult to recycle fiber-reinforced polymers. Looking for a stronger and ecological alternative to these additives, the Complex Materials and Soft Materials groups at ETH Zürich turned to LCPs.

LCPs - Class - Polymers - Melt-processing - Comparison

LCPs are a class of aromatic polymers created via melt-processing. They are extremely inert and fire-resistant. In comparison to other polymers, LCPs are also incredibly easy to produce, with a low raw material cost that undercuts carbon fiber manufacturing.

Self-assembling strength

Research - ETH - Zürich - Groups - LCP

In this latest research from ETH Zürich, the groups used an LCP as a feedstock for a commercially available FFF/FDM 3D printer.

Firstly, when 3D printed, LCP molecules self-assembled in the direction of deposition to achieve unprecedented mechanical properties – likened to the molecular alignment of spider silk.

Orientation - Part - Print - Layers - Team

Secondly, by tailoring the orientation of a part’s print layers, the team were able to 3D print the LCP to account for specific loading conditions, as with wood grain.

Results of the study found that “By orienting the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: 3D Printing Industry
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