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Structural multiscale modelling of extrusion-based 3D and 4D printed materials

Project description

A closer look at FDM technology

Fused deposition modelling (FDM) is a widespread 3D printing technology based on the extrusion of thermoplastic filaments initially used only for prototyping but recently also for the manufacturing of mechanical components. As regards 4D printing, it is an innovative technology used for smart material and structure production through 3D printing of shape memory materials. However, there is still a gap in our understanding of FDM materials' behaviour. The EU-funded FDM^2 project suggests that existing models are not able to conceive the complex behaviour of FDM materials; for that reason, the project intends to deliver a net understanding of the mechanics of FDM materials associated with instruments for the planning, analysis and perfection of FDM structural components.


Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is a common 3D printing technology based on the extrusion of thermoplastic filaments. While it was initially used only for prototyping, it is nowadays shifting towards manufacturing of mechanical components. 4D printing is a very novel technology to produce smart materials and structures through 3D printing of shape memory materials. Due to the specific process of FDM, the material obtains a characteristic mesostructure, which can be controlled through the print process. It is well known that mechanical properties like strength and toughness of the printed material significantly differ from those of the filament material and that they depend on the mesostructure. However, a real understanding of the material behaviour and the governing phenomena is still missing. The common modelling approach is to consider it as a composite laminate. In this proposal, I show that such models cannot capture the complex behaviour of FDM materials beyond the linear elastic regime. I argue that it can only be understood by considering nonlinear effects at the mesostructure, which needs to be interpreted as a 3D structure of bonded fibres rather than an anisotropic solid. Based on these observations, I will develop a new theoretical and computational framework, where representative volume elements of the mesostructure are modelled as an arrangement of beams with adhesive bonding and are linked to the macroscale through a multiscale approach. To make such computations feasible, it will be necessary to adopt modelling simplifications and a major challenge will be to find the right level of simplification that still can capture the relevant effects. It will also require fundamental development of novel high-order/low-cost numerical methods. The results of the successful project will be a clear understanding of the mechanics of FDM materials as well as tools for the design, analysis, and optimization of FDM structural components.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 000 000,00
85579 Neubiberg

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Landkreis
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 000 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)