Experimental Investigation of Mechanical Performance and Printability of Gamma-Irradiated Additively Manufactured ABS


The work presented in this paper investigates the effects of gamma radiation on ABS in forms of irradiated 3D-printed parts, and irradiated filament used to later 3D-printed parts, using a cobalt-60 gamma irradiator. Tensile and flexural test samples were fabricated using off-the-shelf FDM 3D printers and irradiated at different dosages. Mechanical properties including elastic and flexure moduli, ultimate and flexural strength, % elongation at break, and surface hardness were evaluated, and results were compared to a control group. Evidence of cross-linking and chain scission and signs of possible oxidation of polymer caused by irradiation were found in both test groups which led to changes in mechanical properties. Moreover, it was found that ABS filament retains its printability after absorbing 15 kGy of gamma radiation and that its mechanical performance is very similar to those of irradiated samples at the same dose. Obtained results show promise for using ABS to fabricate sterile surgical instruments.

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The authors would like to thank Kostas Kaounas for performing the gamma irradiation and 3M Corporations for providing the cobalt-60 irradiator. The experiments presented in this study were performed in Material Evaluation and Testing Laboratory (METLAB) in Mechanical Engineering Department at South Dakota State University (SDSU). Financial support for this paper was provided by Advanced Manufacturing Process Technology Transition & Training Center (AMPTEC), under Contract Number 3S6674.

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Correspondence to Todd Letcher.

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Rankouhi, B., Javadpour, S., Delfanian, F. et al. Experimental Investigation of Mechanical Performance and Printability of Gamma-Irradiated Additively Manufactured ABS. J. of Materi Eng and Perform 27, 3643–3654 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11665-018-3463-y

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  • 3D printing
  • ABS polymer
  • fused deposition modeling
  • gamma irradiation
  • mechanical properties
  • sterilization
  • surgical instruments