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Additively manufactured foamed polylactic acid for lightweight structures

Yousefi Kanani, Armin, Rennie, Allan E.W., Abd Rahim, Shayfull Zamree Bin (2022) Additively manufactured foamed polylactic acid for lightweight structures. Rapid Prototyping Journal, . ISSN 1355-2546. (doi:10.1108/RPJ-03-2022-0100) (KAR id:96751)


Purpose: This study aims to make foamed polylactic acid (PLA) structures with different densities by varying deposition temperatures using the material extrusion (MEX) additive manufacturing process.

Design/methodology/approach: The extrusion multiplier (EM) was calibrated for each deposition temperature to control foaming expansion. Material density was determined using extruded cubes with the optimal EM value for each deposition temperature. The influence of deposition temperature on the tensile, compression and flexure characteristics of the foamable filament was studied experimentally.

Findings: The foaming expansion ratio, the consistency of the raster width and the raster gap significantly affect the surface roughness of the printed samples. Regardless of the loading conditions, the maximum stiffness and yield strength were achieved at a deposition temperature of 200°C when the PLA specimens had no foam. When the maximum foaming occurred (220°C deposition temperature), the stiffness and yield strength of the PLA specimens were significantly reduced.

Practical implications: The obvious benefit of using foamed materials is that they are lighter and consume less material than bulky polymers. Injection or compression moulding is the most commonly used method for creating foamed products. However, these technologies require tooling to fabricate complicated parts, which may be costly and time-consuming. Conversely, the MEX process can produce extremely complex parts with less tooling expense, reduction in energy use and optimised material consumption.

Originality/value: This study investigates the possibility of stiff, lightweight structures with low fractions of interconnected porosity using foamable filament.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/RPJ-03-2022-0100
Additional information: This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact
Subjects: Q Science
T Technology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences > School of Engineering and Digital Arts
Depositing User: Armin Yousefi Kanani
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2022 12:45 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2022 09:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Yousefi Kanani, Armin.

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