Increased strength in carbon-poly(ether ether ketone) composites from material extrusion with rapid microwave post processing

Jia Ruey Ai, Siyuan Li, Bryan D. Vogt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


One critical challenge for commercial products manufactured via material extrusion 3D printing is their inferior mechanical properties in comparison to injection molding; in particular, 3D printing leads to weaker properties perpendicular to the plane of the printed roads (z-direction). Here, rapid (≤20 s) post-processing of 3D printed carbon- poly(ether ether ketone) (PEEK) with microwaves is demonstrated to dramatically increase the modulus, such that the z-direction after microwave processing (2.7–3.8 GPa) exhibits a higher elastic modulus than the maximum in any direction for the as-printed part (2.3 GPa). Additionally, the stress at break in the z-orientation is increased by an order of magnitude by microwaves to slign with the stress for other print orientations in the as-printed state. The rapid heating and cooling by coupling of the microwave energy with the carbon filler in the PEEK does not increase the crystallinity of the PEEK, so the increased mechanical properties are attributed to improved interfaces between printed roads. This simple microwave post-processing enables large increases in the elastic modulus of the printed parts and can be tuned by the microwave power. As PEEK is generally difficult to print, these concepts can likely be applied to other commercial engineering plastic filaments that contain carbon or other fillers that are microwave active to rapidly post process 3D printed thermoplastics without requiring modification of the filament with selective placement of microwave absorbers. Additionally, these results demonstrate that the average crystallinity does not necessarily correlate with the strength of 3D printed semicrystalline plastics due to the importance of the details of the interface between adjacent printed roads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103209
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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