The use of support material to produce Fused Deposition Modeling parts is often unavoidable. The support removal task tends to be laborious and time-consuming when no soluble support materials are available, which is the case of the high-performance thermoplastic Ultem™ 9085. This paper investigates the effect of different solvent/solvent mixtures on Ultem's mechanical properties with the aim to identify a solvent capable of dissolving its support material (a polysulfone) without noticeably damaging the model material. To do so, initial solubility tests have helped narrow the list of solvent candidates. These have been followed by infrared analyses to identify the presence of dissolved polymers in the media, as well as scanning electron microscope micrographs to analyze the surface topography of the treated parts. Finally, tensile and flexural tests have permitted to quantify the change on Ultem's mechanical properties as a function of the treatment time. Major findings include a reproducible method for softening or eliminating Ultem's support material with non-significant changes in their mechanical properties. The outcome of this work represents a first step on the lookout for a solution to facilitate the removal of polysulfone and is considered of great interest for the scientific community due to the rise of Ultem as a structural material.
|Estat de la publicació||Publicada - de maig 2020|