The objective of the research is to test the use of 3D printed thermoplastic to produce fixtures which affix instrumentation to asphalt concrete samples used for Simple Performance Testing (SPT). The testing is done as part of materials characterization to obtain properties that will help in future pavement designs. Currently, these fixtures (mounting studs) are made of expensive brass and cumbersome to clean with or without chemicals.
Three types of thermoplastics were utilized to assess the effect of temperature and applied stress on the performance of the 3D printed studs. Asphalt concrete samples fitted with thermoplastic studs were tested according to AASHTO & ASTM standards. The thermoplastics tested are: Polylactic acid (PLA), the most common 3D printing material; Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a typical 3D printing material which is less rigid than PLA and has a higher melting temperature; Polycarbonate (PC), a strong, high temperature 3D printing material.
A high traffic volume Marshal mix design from the City of Phoenix was obtained and adapted to a Superpave mix design methodology. The mix design is dense-graded with nominal maximum aggregate size of ¾” inch and a PG 70-10 binder. Samples were fabricated and the following tests were performed: Dynamic Modulus |E*| conducted at five temperatures and six frequencies; Flow Number conducted at a high temperature of 50°C, and axial cyclic fatigue test at a moderate temperature of 18°C.
The results from SPT for each 3D printed material were compared to results using brass mounting studs. Validation or rejection of the concept was determined from statistical analysis on the mean and variance of collected SPT test data.
The concept of using 3D printed thermoplastic for mounting stud fabrication is a promising option; however, the concept should be verified with more extensive research using a variety of asphalt mixes and operators to ensure no bias in the repeatability and reproducibility of test results. The Polycarbonate (PC) had a stronger layer bonding than ABS and PLA while printing. It was recommended for follow up studies.