Characterizing the Thermal-Induced Distortion of Large-Scale Polymer Composite Printed Structures
The Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) system has been used to print large-scale parts, such as automotive structures and molds for tooling, with fiber-reinforced polymer composites. Incorporating reinforcing fibers in printed parts is commonly used to increase stiffness and strength, but it also introduces significant anisotropy in the thermomechanical performance, which can lead to distortion and warping during thermal cycling. Characterizing and understanding how a printed tool distorts is crucial to maintaining tolerances and avoiding part failure. This study uses digital image correlation (DIC) to measure the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of a printed part from room temperature and to a known steady state temperature. The samples were printed with carbon fiber reinforced acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (CF-ABS). Various nozzle geometries were evaluated in this study with the intent of minimizing the thermal- induced distortion experienced by printed parts.