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FDM 3D printing with High Temperature Materials

Final Year University Individual Project focusing on building a 3D printer that prints PEEK

3D Printer Building: Welcome

Project Introduction

What is this project about?

This project aims to improve on a first generation prototype of a commercial FDM 3D printer in order to successfully print high temperature materials. It is quite an exciting project as existing commercial 3D printers capable of printing high temperature materials such as PEEK cost an average of £6000 per unit, with the minimum being £3500. This project was able to reproduce results at a cost of just under £1000.

What is PEEK?

PEEK, short for poly-ether-ether-ketone, is a thermoplastic used for testing in the project. It known for its exceptional combination of strength, stiffness, toughness and environmental resistance. Moreover, it is fatigue and creep resistant in high operating temperatures of up to 260ºC. This high-performance polymer has a glass transition temperature (Tg) of 144°C and a melting temperature (Tm) of 344°C. Apart from being used in automotive industry to reduce weight of overall assemblies, PEEK  is also increasingly used as an effective biomaterial for implantable medical devices such as orthopaedic, spinal and cranial implants.

3D Printer Building: List

Initial Assessment

A thorough assessment was conducted to the prototype at the beginning of the project to identify any shortcomings in need of urgent repair, and to enable the author to familiarise herself with the operating systems.

Initial test prints with PLA

Printer at Handover

Initial Test Prints with PLA

Getting Familiarised with the System

3D Printer Building: Projects

Design Decisions & Manufacturing Upgrades

This section outlines the approach and steps taken after a detailed assessment was carried out.

Decision Making Tools

Initial Sketches

Implementing Improvements

3D Printer Building: Projects

Final Exhibition Posters

3D Printer Building: Gallery

Final Dissertation Report

3D Printer Building: Files
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Conclusion & Reflection

Overall, the project has been a great success, albeit getting cut short by the COVID situation. It has strengthened my knowledge of machine design and systems, additive manufacturing and the ASTM tensile testing process. It was also really fun to put what I have learned in the classrooms such as project management and morphological matrix into practice. Attained result on Final Project Report: first class with exemplar award.

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