Hydrophobic coating of 3D-printed polylactic acid surfaces

In a current study, researchers developed exfoliated graphite (EG)/acrylic composite films as protective coatings of 3D-printed PLA surfaces.

Milk drops squirt out of a glass of milk.
Three-dimensional (3D) printers utilise polylactic acid (PLA) as feedstock filament due to its renewability -

One major drawback of 3D-printed polylactic acid (PLA) products is their limited application in harsh environments due to their low hydrolytic resistance. The paper reports on the water contact angles (WCAs) and weight change behavior of 3D-printed PLA surfaces coated with EG/acrylic composite films under humid exposure. They obtained hydrophobic films (WCA > 90°) after adding EG platelets to the acrylic resin.

Improved hydrolytic resistance of 3D-printed PLA surfaces

Moreover, the films retain their hydrophobicity after a long humid exposure. The films also reduce the water absorption of 3D-printed PLA surfaces. The addition of stearic acid in the coating formulation further enhances the water resistance of the films. In conclusion, the hydrophobic EG/acrylic composite films improve the hydrolytic resistance of 3D-printed PLA surfaces. The use of EG over defect-free graphene to create hydrophobic polymeric films will need to be considered in future studies.

The study is published in: Journal of Coatings Technology and Research  July 2019, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1133–1140.

Image source: Pixabay

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