Identification of a Suitable 3D Printing Material for Mimicking Brittle and Hard Rocks and Its Brittleness Enhancements

T. Zhou, Jianbo Zhu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Three-dimensional printing (3DP) is a computer-controlled additive manufacturing technique which is able to repeatedly and accurately fabricate objects with complicated geometry and internal structures. After 30 years of fast development, 3DP has become a mainstream manufacturing process in various fields. This study focuses on identifying the most suitable 3DP material from five targeted available 3DP materials, i.e. ceramics, gypsum, PMMA (poly(methyl methacrylate)), SR20 (acrylic copolymer) and resin (Accura®60), to simulate brittle and hard rocks. Firstly, uniaxial compression tests were performed to determine the mechanical properties and failure patterns of the 3DP samples fabricated by those five materials. Experimental results indicate that among current 3DP techniques, the resin produced via stereolithography (SLA) is the most suitable 3DP material for mimicking brittle and hard rocks, although its brittleness needs to be improved. Subsequently, three methods including freezing, incorporation of internal macro-crack and addition of micro-defects were adopted to enhance the brittleness of the 3DP resin, followed by uniaxial compression tests on the treated samples. Experimental results reveal that 3DP resin samples with the suggested treatments exhibited brittle properties and behaved similarly to natural rocks. Finally, some prospective improvements which can be used to facilitate the application of 3DP techniques to rock mechanics were also discussed. The findings of this paper could contribute to promoting the application of 3DP technique in rock mechanics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-777
Number of pages13
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • 3D printing
  • 3DP resin
  • Brittle and hard rock
  • Brittleness enhancement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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