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Shape-Memory Properties of 3D Printed PLA Structures
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1  Virtual Institute of Applied Research on Advanced Materials (VIARAM)
2  Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics


Polylactic acid (PLA) belongs to the few thermoplastic polymers that are derived from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane. PLA is often used in 3D printing by fused deposition modelling (FDM) since it is relatively easy to print, does not show warping and can be printed without a closed building chamber. On the other hand, PLA has interesting mechanical properties which are influenced by the printing parameters and geometries. Here we present shape-memory properties of PLA cubes with different infill patterns and percentages. We investigate the material response under defined quasi-static load and varying temperature as well as the possibility to restore the original 3D printed shape. The quasi-static flexural properties are linked to the porosity and the infill structure of the samples under investigation, examined optically and by simulations. Our results underline the importance of designing the infill patterns carefully to develop samples with desired mechanical properties.

Keywords: PLA; polylactic acid; shape-memory properties; mechanical properties; FDM printing