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A new study prepared over a 52-week period by England's Loughborough University offers interested readers the university experts' evaluate the mechanical properties over time of polycarbonate and ABS plastic parts made with the Fused Deposition Modeling process. The evaluation included testing to determine how the parts stand up over time to heat, cold, moisture, and dryness.

Matt Defosse

September 7, 2011

1 Min Read
Additive manufacturing study offers long-term info on ABS and PC

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing process; the company Stratasys (Minneapolis, MN) patented and owns the process. The process can be used to create functional prototypes and manufactured goods directly from a 3D CAD program, using high-performance industrial thermoplastics.

The clear trend in additive manufacturing is that it continues to be used for prototype manufacturing, as it has since the late 1980's, but increasingly is seen as a means to produce low-volume bespoke parts - and so it is moving into territory fought over by plastics processors, metalworking shops and other "standard" manufacturers.

Products made via FDM are used in the aerospace, defense, automotive, medical, business & industrial equipment, education, architecture, and consumer-product industries. The study from Loughborough University offers plastics processors information they can use to judge whether the investment in an FDM system makes sense for some of their own projects, or as a means to expand business. "The finished product or prototype can be in service for extended periods of time and in varying conditions, so it is imperative to qualify the properties beyond published specifications," the study stated. The Additive Manufacturing Research Group (AMRG) at Loughborough University is one of the world's leading research centers for Additive Manufacturing (AM) R&D, and each summer hosts one of the leading conferences on AM.

Added Fred Fischer, director of materials business development for Stratasys, "Manufacturers are hungry for data on mechanical performance of additive processes. The Loughborough study offers statistically sound, comprehensive data, which will help engineers make decisions about additive manufacturing."

An overview of the study of each material, plus specifications and detailed findings, can be downloaded from the Stratasys website here.

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