Structural integrity of lightweight 3D printed parts

F. Guetta, T. Comlekci

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

47 Downloads (Pure)


The additive manufacturing (AM) industry has grown significantly in the recent years. AM was mostly used for rapid prototyping and as a visual aid in the early days, however the progress in technology now enables mass production of functional parts. There is a range of AM technologies from fused filament fabrication (FFF)
methods of thermoplastics on small scale desktop 3d printers to large scale industrial metal 3d printers using the laser sintering or electron beam melting methods.

FFF method for 3d printing of thermoplastic materials such as PLA, ABS, and Nylon etc. is already well established and provides low cost rapid prototyping particularly on the desktop 3d printers. Recently composite thermoplastic materials became available for the FFF 3d printers. Such materials use a plastic polymer for the matrix of the material and carbon fibre, glass fibre or wood fibre with varying percentage content. The addition of carbon fibres in a thermoplastic filament is expected to produce stiffer and stronger parts compared to parts made
from the base material alone. However, the mechanical properties of those materials that are increasingly being used for functional parts need further research.

In this paper, three composite thermoplastic filament materials are selected for FFF 3d printing on a desktop 3d printer. Mechanical tests were performed on samples 3d printed with these materials in order to analyse their mechanical properties in terms of stiffness and strength. These mechanical properties were then analysed in
relation to the weight and cost of the various materials. The initial results showed that the mechanical properties do not increase significantly when compared to the pure polymer, and in some cases, they are even worse due to the high percentage of voids and the short length of fibres within the filament. It was found that the stiffness of the 3d printed composite thermoplastic material increased, however the ultimate strength was generally lower.

Such 3d printed functional parts are planned to be used in lightweight UAV designs, such as drones in this research project. The next stage will investigate the optimisation of 3d printing parameters and fatigue properties of 3d printed composite materials. Further material development elsewhere, such as using continuous fibres in filaments is another new area that is investigated here and promising lightweight 3d printed functional parts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2nd International Conference on Lightweight Design of Materials and Engineering Structures (LIMAS 2017)
Subtitle of host publication13 - 14th November 2017, London, United Kingdom
EditorsPurnendu Das
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherASRANet Ltd
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978199953617
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2017
Event2nd International Conference on Lightweight Design of Materials and Engineering Structures - Jurys Inn, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Nov 201714 Nov 2017


Conference2nd International Conference on Lightweight Design of Materials and Engineering Structures
Abbreviated titleLIMAS 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • 3D printing
  • structural integrity
  • composite materials


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural integrity of lightweight 3D printed parts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this