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UV-Assisted 3D Printing of Glass and Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Dual-Cure Polymer Composites
UV-Assisted 3D Printing of Glass and Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Dual-Cure Polymer Composites

Glass (GFR) and carbon fiber-reinforced (CFR) dual-cure polymer composites fabricated by UV-assisted three-dimensional (UV-3D) printing are presented. The resin material combines an acrylic-based photocurable resin with a low temperature (140 °C) thermally-curable resin system based on bisphenol A diglycidyl ether as base component, an aliphatic anhydride (hexahydro-4-methylphthalic anhydride) as hardener and (2,4,6,-tris(dimethylaminomethyl)phenol) as catalyst. A thorough rheological characterization of these formulations allowed us to define their 3D printability window. UV-3D printed macrostructures were successfully demonstrated, giving a clear indication of their potential use in real-life structural applications. Differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic mechanical analysis highlighted the good thermal stability and mechanical properties of the printed parts. In addition, uniaxial tensile tests were used to assess the fiber reinforcing effect on the UV-3D printed objects. Finally, an initial study was conducted on the use of a sizing treatment on carbon fibers to improve the fiber/matrix interfacial adhesion, giving preliminary indications on the potential of this approach to improve the mechanical properties of the 3D printed CFR components.