Sintering and Characterizations of 3D Printed Bronze Metal Filament
Metal 3D printing typically requires high energy laser or electron sources. Recently, 3D printing using metal filled filaments becomes available which uses PLA filaments filled with metal powders (such as copper, bronze, brass, and stainless steel). Although there are some studies on their printability, the detailed study of their sintering and characterizations is still missing.
In this study, the research is focused on 3D printing of bronze filaments. Bronze is a popular metal for many important uses. The objectives of this research project are to study the optimal processing conditions (like printer settings, nozzle, and bed temperatures) to print bronze metal filament, develop the sintering conditions (temperature and duration), and characterization of the microstructure and mechanical properties of 3D printed specimens to produce strong specimens.
The thesis includes three components: (1) 3D printing and sintering at selected conditions, following a design of experiment (DOE) principle; (2) microstructure and compositional characterizations; and (3) mechanical property characterization. The results show that it is feasible to print using bronze filaments using a typical FDM machine with optimized printing settings. XRD spectrums show that there is no effect of sintering temperature on the composition of the printed parts. SEM images illustrate the porous structure of the printed and sintered parts, suggesting the need to optimize the process to improve the density. The micro hardness and three-point bending tests show that the mechanical strengths are highly related to the sintering conditions. This study provides important information of applying the bronze filament in future engineering applications.