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Rheological and Mechanical Gradient Properties of Polyurethane Elastomers for 3D-Printing with Reactive Additives

Wang, Peng; Auhl, Dietmar; Uhlmann, Eckart; Gerlitzky, Georg; Wagner, Manfred H.

Polyurethane (PU) elastomers with their broad range of strength and elasticity are ideal materials for additive manufacturing of shapes with gradients of mechanical properties. By adjusting the mixing ratio of different polyurethane reactants during 3D-printing it is possible to change the mechanical properties. However, to guarantee intra- and inter-layer adhesion, it is essential to know the reaction kinetics of the polyurethane reaction, and to be able to influence the reaction speed in a wide range. In this study, the effect of adding three different catalysts and two inhibitors to the reaction of polyurethane elastomers were studied by comparing the time of crossover points between storage and loss modulus G′ and G′′ from time sweep tests of small amplitude oscillatory shear at 30°C. The time of crossover points is reduced with the increasing amount of catalysts, but only the reaction time with one inhibitor is significantly delayed. The reaction time of 90% NCO group conversion calculated from the FTIR-spectrum also demonstrates the kinetics of samples with different catalysts. In addition, the relation between the conversion as determined from FTIR spectroscopy and the mechanical properties of the materials was established. Based on these results, it is possible to select optimized catalysts and inhibitors for polyurethane 3D-printing of materials with gradients of mechanical properties.
Published in: Applied Rheology, 10.1515/arh-2019-0014, De Gruyter