Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Anson Ma, Montgomery T. Shaw, Luyi Sun

Field of Study

Chemical Engineering


Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access


Additive manufacturing, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, is one of the fastest-growing technologies for rapid prototyping and manufacturing. The ability to produce intricate, customized parts is a major advantage of 3D printing. In the past few decades, optimization of material feedstock and 3D printing methods to meet different application requirements has remained an active area of research. This project’s objective is to optimize the material selection and 3D printing conditions for two different material sets: carbon nanotube (CNT)-filled polylactic acid (PLA) composites and ceramics.

The first part of this thesis explores the inclusion of CNTs in PLA to improve the mechanical and thermal properties of the 3D printed parts. First, CNTs were blended with PLA using a twin-screw extruder and then extruded into feedstock filaments for a fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer. The thermal and mechanical properties of CNT-PLA samples were characterized using Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), and tensile tests.

The second part of this thesis focuses on 3D printing ceramic-based tools that can withstand high temperatures. First, ceramic powder was mixed with dispersant, forming a ceramic slurry. Rheology and thermal degradation experiments were then performed on different slurry mixtures containing different types of ceramic powders and dispersants at varying ratios. Small trial samples were printed using a FDM printer and a custom-built nozzle; and an alternative casting method was investigated as well. The firing process improved the mechanical strengths of the casted ceramic tools by burning off the dispersant and sintering the ceramic powder.

Major Advisor

Anson Ma