Micromechanical Models for FDM 3D-Printed Polymers

A Review

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Due to its large number of advantages compared to traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques, additive manufacturing (AM) has gained increasing attention and popularity. Among the most common AM techniques is fused filament fabrication (FFF), usually referred to by its trademarked name: fused deposition modeling (FDM). This is the most efficient technique for manufacturing physical three-dimensional thermoplastics, such that FDM machines are nowadays the most common. Regardless of the 3D-printing methodology, AM techniques involve layer-by-layer deposition. Generally, this layer-wise process introduces anisotropy into the produced parts. The manufacturing procedure creates parts possessing heterogeneities at the micro (usually up to 1 mm) and meso (mm to cm) length scales, such as voids and pores, whose size, shape, and spatial distribution are mainly influenced by the so-called printing process parameters. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate their influence on the mechanical properties of FDM 3D-printed parts. This review starts with the identification of the printing process parameters that are considered to affect the micromechanical composition of FDM 3D-printed polymers. In what follows, their (negative) influence is attributed to characteristic mechanical properties. The remainder of this work reviews the state of the art in geometrical, numerical, and experimental analyses of FDM-printed parts. Finally, conclusions are drawn for each of the aforementioned analyses in view of microstructural modeling.