Thermoforming Characteristics of PLA/TPU Multi-Material Specimens Fabricated with Fused Deposition Modelling under Different Temperatures
Multi-material products are required in fused deposition modelling (FDM) to meet a desired specification such as a rigid structure with soft material for impact protection. This paper focuses on the thermoformability and shape recovery characteristics of three-dimensional (3D)-printed multi-material specimens under different thermoforming temperatures. The multi-material specimens consist of polylactic acid (PLA) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). The PLA/TPU specimens were prepared by
... ting the TPU component on top of the PLA component using a fused deposition modelling (FDM) machine. Simple thermoforming tests were proposed, where the specimens were bent under load and molded into a circular shape at different thermoforming temperatures. The bent specimens were then reheated at 60 °C to evaluate their shape memory ability. The test results were quantified into apparent bending modulus and shape recovery percentage. The PLA/TPU specimens showed a better apparent bending modulus of 143 MPa than a PLA specimen at a temperature between 60 °C to 90 °C. However, only the PLA/TPU specimens being thermoformed into a circular shape at 100 °C or greater showed good shape retention accuracy and interfacial surface bonding. The PLA/TPU specimens that were thermoformed at 60 °C to 90 °C showed reasonable shape memory of about 60% recovery when reheated. Finally, suitable thermoforming temperatures for thermoforming PLA/TPU specimens were suggested based on design needs.