The capabilities of the fused deposition modeling machine Ultimaker and its adjusting for the biomedical research purposes
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The Ultimaker 3D printer utilizes the extrusion-based technique called fused deposition modeling (FDM), which is one of the additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. The printer is capable of translating a computer-aided design (CAD) model into a physical part automatically by using an additive approach. The first objective of this thesis was to adjust and calibrate the Ultimaker 3D printer in order to enhance the quality of the printed parts. Several upgrade parts were installed in the printer, of which some were printed with the printer. The second objective was to evaluate how printing parameters affect the properties of the parts fabricated with the Ultimaker 3D printer and whether the printer can be applied for biomedical research purposes. Several different kinds of samples of different polymer materials were printed and characterized. The mechanical properties were determined by tensile testing. Changes in material thermal history were investigated by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) analysis. Degradation due to processing was studied by inherent viscosity (IV) measurements. The dimensional accuracy and stability were investigated by x-ray microtomography (MicroCT) imaging and related measurements. Also visual inspection was exploited. The quality of the printed parts enhanced due to improvements made to the printer. An increase in the printing temperature, nozzle size and flow rate combined with a decrease in printing speed increase the tensile strengths of the parts. Minor degradation took place during printing, decreasing the inherent viscosities of the materials. Printing also resulted in the minor shrinkage of the parts, having a negative deviation along x- and y-direction and a positive deviation along z-direction. In conclusion, when fabricating parts by using the FDM technique, it is important to select the optimal settings and parameters according to the required properties of the part. However, obtaining only the optimal material properties does not ensure that the final part would be externally acceptable and suitable for the final application. When regarding the dimensional accuracy and stability of the printed parts as well as the ability of the printer to fabricate complex geometries and very fine structures, the Ultimaker 3D printer has potential to be utilized for biomedical research purposes. In addition, the printer can be adjusted to work with several different polymer materials.