A lot of us feel we are pretty smart, we retain information, and we are able to differentiate the fact from the fallacy. The truly gifted thinkers are ahead of all that and blaze a new trail, they provide the information and the new idea for the rest of us to use and build upon. While the rest of the world is trying to build a printer in a box Rebecca wanted to replace the atmosphere in that box. She was interested in the effects to the mechanical properties of PLA (polylactic acid) when using a gas dilution purging process during FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printing.

Rebecca started building a MP3DP last year and has just recently finished this chapter of her almost year long research project. She was new to this sort of DIY build and we all know I have provide little to no instructions on how to build it. She had some help from some of the awesome members in the forums here to fill in any missing build information, little did we know what she was truly up to. We all got to follow along in some of the unique build for a while and then when the research got serious things got quiet. I am extremely proud to have the slightest affiliation with this, and proud of the community here that provided some support. Thank you to everyone involved.

Now that Rebecca’s 2017 science/engineering fair competition season has come to an end, the findings are allowed to be published I am very proud to share them with you all for the first time.

More than 12% stronger PLA prints are possible with this previously untested idea and this is just the initial findings. Flooding the build chamber with argon, carbon dioxide, helium, or nitrogen did all reveal significantly different results with some of the mechanical properties of PLA prints! The results of tensile strength, impact resistance, and even surface finish I will leave to be accurately presented in the paper linked below.

I am saving the best for last. Not only has she done some amazing science she has also provided the world with useful results, stronger prints,  possibly a better surface finish, a new avenue to explore with FDM 3D printing in non-oxygen atmospheres, and also a possible easily implemented solution. While we might have Stratasys patent issues with an enclosed printer Rebecca has already thought of a possible solution; perhaps we can just use the Nitrogen or other gasses as a shielding gas like in some welding systems. Flood the nozzle as it prints instead of the entire enclosure. See what I mean about being ahead of the curve?

Rebecca was named one of the Female Engineers of the year and won several other awards at the State Finals, a few short months later also found out she was named her middle school’s Student of the Year. Yes, that is correct Rebecca was not even a High School student yet. I am sure you will all agree with me that this gifted young scientist/engineer has an extremely bright future ahead of her.

The Effects of Practical Inert Gas Dilution Purging on the Fused Deposition Modeling of Polylactic Acid
Rebecca J. Luckey