Non-destructive analysis of the mechanical properties of 3D-printed materials

Domingo-Roca, R. and Asciak, L. and Windmill, J. F. C. and Mulvana, H. and Jackson-Camargo, J. C. (2022) Non-destructive analysis of the mechanical properties of 3D-printed materials. Journal of Nondestructive Evaluation, 41 (1). 22. ISSN 0195-9298 (

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The determination of the mechanical properties of materials is predominantly undertaken using destructive approaches. Such approaches are based on well-established mathematical formulations where a physical property of the material is measured as a function of an input under controlled conditions provided by some machine, such as load-displacement curves in indentation tests and stress-strain plots in tensile testing. The main disadvantage of these methods is that they involve destruction of samples as they are usually tested to failure to determine the properties of interest. This means that large sample sizes are required to obtain statistical certainty, a condition that, depending on the material, may mean the process is both time consuming and expensive. In addition, for rapid prototyping and small-batch manufacturing of polymers, these techniques may be inappropriate either due to excessive cost or high polymer composition variability between batches. In this paper we discuss how the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory can be exploited for experimental, non-destructive assessment of the mechanical properties of three different 3D-printed materials: a plastic, an elastomer, and a hydrogel. We demonstrate applicability of the approach for materials, which vary by several orders of magnitude of Young’s moduli, by measuring the resonance frequencies of appended rectangular cantilevers using laser Doppler vibrometry. The results indicate that experimental determination of the resonance frequency can be used to accurately determine the exact elastic modulus of any given 3D-printed component. We compare the obtained results with those obtained by tensile testing for comparison and validation.