Hygrothermal and Microstructural Investigation of PLA and PLA-Flax Printed Structures

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The aim of this work is to explore the manufacturing of insulation structures using fused filament deposition of biosourced materials. The approach considers printing of Polylactic acid (PLA) and PLA-flax (PF) structures using varied infill density and printing temperatures. Differential Scanning Calorimetry and Thermal Gravimetry analysis are performed to study thermal behaviour of PLA and PF and derive weight content of fibres within PF. Thermal measurements show a strong dependence of thermal conductivity with infill density and slightly improved thermal insulation of PF compared to PLA. Moreover, both PF and PLA show a hydrophobic behaviour unlike conventional green concretes based on hemp or flax. In addition, both scanning electron and optical microscopies show marked morphological changes induced by the laying down process for PF. This latter exhibits a more complex and tortuous microstructure compared to PLA marked by the presence of inter-filament porosity. This work concludes with superior hygrothermal properties of PLA and PF compared to other biosourced materials such as hemp or flax concrete. This work also concludes with the beneficial role of flax fibres that provides better hygrothermal properties to the printed structures as well as on the need to optimize the infill characteristics including density and cell morphology density.

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