The study investigated the surface roughness of 3D printed objects through a statistical experiment and X-ray computed tomography of their shell and internal structure, to determine the optimal configurations for print quality.
A wide range of optimal configurations were determined. The study confirms the existing literature that infill levels do not play a major role in the surface quality of the printed objects. Pigmentation of the material does not influence the final surface quality at the chosen temperature. However, natural PLA is consistently present in all the sets of ideal configurations. The material, however, does shrink, adding to the unevenness of the surface and overall dimensions. Shape plays the most important role in deciding the surface quality of these objects.
When an appropriate configuration is used, it is possible to minimize the number of rejected prints and avoid the wastage of filament. The study also shows that tapered objects such as cones will show more unevenness on their external surface when compared to non-deformed objects like cylinders. This confirmation is extremely useful when it comes to performing appropriate design choices while printing, and making additive manufacturing more sustainable.
The future direction is to investigate the surface quality of the objects when printed with and without support structures while also considering polyhedral objects.
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