Effect of ionising radiation on the mechanical and structural properties of 3D printed plastics

Paul Wady, Alex Wasilewski, Lucy Brock, Ruth Edge, Aliaksandr Baidak, Connor McBride, Laura Leay, Arron Griffiths, Cristina Valles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work investigates the evolution of the tensile and structural properties of fused filament fabrication (FFF), formed polymers under gamma irradiation. Commercial off-the-shelf print filaments of Poly(lactic acid) (PLA), Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), Chlorinated polyethylene elastomer (CPE), Nylon, Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and Polycarbonate (PC) were exposed to gamma-ray doses of up to 5.3 MGy. The suitability of FFF-formed components made from these materials for use in radiation environments is evaluated by considering their structural properties. We identify clear trends in the structural properties of all the materials tested and correlate them with changes in the chemical structure. We find that Nylon shows the best performance under these conditions, with no change in ultimate tensile strength and an increase in stiffness. However, some of our findings suggest that the effect of additives to this type of filament may result in potentially undesirable adhesive properties. The organic polymer PLA was notably more radiation-sensitive than the other materials tested, showing 50 % decrease in Young’s Modulus and ultimate tensile strength at order of magnitude lower radiation dose. A mechanism is proposed whereby FFF-processed components would have substantially different radiation tolerances than bulk material.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100907
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
Early online date24 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Oct 2019


  • 3D printed polymers
  • ionising radiation
  • mechanical properties
  • radiation environment
  • radiation-induced degradation
  • fuse filament fabrication

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Dalton Nuclear Institute


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