Thursday, January 21, 2021

URSP Student Sidney Boakye Conducts a Study on the Surface Degradation of Additively Manufactured (3D-Printed) ABS Polymer for Naval Applications

Additive manufacturing (AM) has recently gained attention due to its ability to transform manufacturing and logistics processes. Additionally, additively manufactured alternatives would provide extra savings and a level of flexibility, especially when it comes to replacement parts, which can not be matched by traditional methods. However, questions remain about the durability of 3D printed components and if trade-offs in durability are worth the cost benefits. My research attempts to tackle these questions by comparing additively manufactured ABS plastic with its traditionally manufactured counterpart. Samples of each would be exposed to an accelerated corrosion environment while being submerged in saltwater. I printed rectangular and dogbone shaped ABS samples and ordered comparable traditional manufactured versions of the same. The rectangular samples were used for wear testing while the dogbone samples were used for tensile testing. Both sample types were placed in containers with varying temperatures (29, 60 and 70 degrees Celsius) and left for 1, 2, and 4-week intervals.

My primary interest is in liquid rocket propulsion. Right now, multiple industries are figuring out ways to better utilize additive manufacturing, including the aerospace industry. Rocket manufacturers are now looking at 3D printing some components. One company, Relativity Space, formed with the goal of 3D printing an entire rocket. 

An average day of research is walking 5 meters from my room to the unoccupied bedroom in my dorm and firing up the 3-D printer. Yes, I am conducting this research in my dorm room. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of adaptions in how students and researcher go about their daily business. This is one of my adaptations. I will test different prints, orientation for printing samples, clean on excess materials, and repeat.  The main adaptation we made was creating the samples in my dorm room and having all the materials purchased for the experiments shipped to my dorm. The next step is to conduct the corrosion test for all the samples.