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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
Volume 2017, Article ID 6913835, 10 pages
Research Article

Dielectric Properties of 3D Printed Polylactic Acid

Experimental Physics V, Center for Electronic Correlations and Magnetism, University of Augsburg, 86159 Augsburg, Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Stephan Krohns; ed.grubsgua-inu.kisyhp@snhork.nahpets

Received 3 April 2017; Revised 30 May 2017; Accepted 18 June 2017; Published 17 July 2017

Academic Editor: Marino Lavorgna

Copyright © 2017 Claudius Dichtl et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


3D printers constitute a fast-growing worldwide market. These printers are often employed in research and development fields related to engineering or architecture, especially for structural components or rapid prototyping. Recently, there is enormous progress in available materials for enhanced printing systems that allow additive manufacturing of complex functional products, like batteries or electronics. The polymer polylactic acid (PLA) plays an important role in fused filament fabrication, a technique used for commercially available low-budget 3D printers. This printing technology is an economical tool for the development of functional components or cases for electronics, for example, for lab purposes. Here we investigate if the material properties of “as-printed” PLA, which was fabricated by a commercially available 3D printer, are suitable to be used in electrical measurement setups or even as a functional material itself in electronic devices. For this reason, we conduct differential scanning calorimetry measurements and a thorough temperature and frequency-dependent analysis of its dielectric properties. These results are compared to partially crystalline and completely amorphous PLA, indicating that the dielectric properties of “as-printed” PLA are similar to the latter. Finally, we demonstrate that the conductivity of PLA can be enhanced by mixing it with the ionic liquid “trihexyl tetradecyl phosphonium decanoate.” This provides a route to tailor PLA for complex functional products produced by an economical fused filament fabrication.