Exfoliated graphene/thermoplastic elastomer nanocomposites with improved wear properties for 3D printing
Hyerin Jeon a,b,1, Youn Kim b,1, Woong-Ryeol Yu a, Jea UkLee b
Although three-dimensional (3D) thermoplastic elastomer printing has been studied, the unsatisfactory mechanical properties of 3D-printed elastomers, especially their substandard wear characteristics, make it difficult to use them in industrial products or processes. In this study, thermoplastic elastomer nanocomposites with improved wear properties were fabricated using thermoplastic polyether elastomer (TPEE), with surface-modified carbon black (CB), or electrochemically exfoliated graphene through multiple extrusion processes. The surface-modified CB/TPEE composite showed about four times more wear resistance and 26% improvement in tensile strength as compared to bare TPEE resin. The graphene/TPEE composite with only 1 wt% graphene exhibited an elevenfold increase in wear resistance and 43% improvement in the tensile strength owing to the high dispersibility and lubricating effect of the two-dimensional graphene filler. Graphene/TPEE composites were extruded into filaments for 3D printing. Three-dimensional printed products made from the nanocomposites have much higher wear resistance than 3D products of bare TPEE resin, demonstrating that graphene and TPEE nanocomposites are well suited for manufacturing a wide variety of complex electronic and mechanical components with excellent wear characteristics.