Improving the engineering properties of PLA for 3D printing and beyond

Carmen Raquel Rocha Gutierrez, University of Texas at El Paso


Additive manufacturing (AM), now more commonly known as 3D printing, has been classified as efficient, fast, and practical in the prototyping sector of product development. In the work presented here, we will use one of the AM techniques known as Material extrusion 3D printing (ME3DP), which has all the advantages of AM. However, one of the biggest challenges facing ME3DP technologies is the limitation of the range of materials used by this technique. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and poly-lactic acid (PLA) are currently the most common thermoplastics materials used in ME3DP because of their ability to melt and be reprocessed. PLA is a biodegradable polymer derived from renewable sources such as corn, and sugarcane. The expanded use of this polymer over traditional petroleum-based plastics (ABS) will decrease the demand on petrochemicals, and also lead to less non-biodegradable polymeric waste. While PLA offers an eco-friendly solution for polymeric 3D printing, the mechanical performance is limited by PLA’s inherent characteristics (such as moisture absorbance) that may degrade the plastic during processing. PLA novel systems were used through this research maintaining the compatibility with material extrusion 3D printers. The purpose of this investigation is to alter the physical properties of PLA with sustainable additives in order to improve the end use products from this material.

Subject Area

Polymer chemistry|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Rocha Gutierrez, Carmen Raquel, "Improving the engineering properties of PLA for 3D printing and beyond" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10118171.