United States Army warfighters in theater are often faced with the challenge of broken, damaged, or missing parts necessary to maintain the safety and productivity required. One solution, which is explored in this project, is to give warfighters the capability to manufacture the parts required on site. Waste plastics can be utilized to improve the self-reliance of warfighters on forward operating bases by cutting costs and decreasing the demand for the frequent resupplying of parts by the supply chain. It would also allow for parts to be made in a time-effective matter and in a way that would allow for post-production modifications. Experimentation is conducted to turn waste plastics into polymer pellets that can be heated and extruded into filament. The effect of extrusion temperature and number of extrusion cycles on polymer viscosity and crystallinity are explored. The effect of fillers to reduce or increase the melt viscosity or impart additional functionality is also examined. The filament can then be used for additive manufacturing methods like 3D printing, which allows for the capability of designing and building a wide array of plastic parts. Tensile specimens were tested and compared to die-cut and injection molded parts. In addition, select military parts were printed with recycled filament and compared to original parts. This research demonstrates some of the first work on the feasibility of using recycled plastic in additive manufacturing.
- Describe the challenges associated with processing and printing non-standard feedstocks for FDM printing
- Describe the effect of extrusion and printing processing parameters on performance of the printed part