Investigating Marine Environmental Degradation of Additive Manufacturing Materials for Renewable Energy Applications

Research output: NRELPresentation


Marine renewable energy is a relatively young industry where there is a great need for rapid prototyping in design-build-test campaigns to quickly mature groundbreaking technologies. Additive manufacturing has an important role to play in the industry; however, little information is available to marine energy developers to help inform them on which additive manufacturing materials are appropriate for highly loaded structures in harsh marine environments. This paper presents an initial study on the mechanical characterization of polymeric additive manufacturing materials and the degradation effects due to the marine environment. Ultem 9085, acrylonitrile styrene acrylate, and chopped carbon-filled nylon, as well as continuous carbon and glass fiber-reinforced nylon were chosen for this study. Samples were manufactured to perform a variety of tension, shear, and compression mechanical characterization tests on the materials. Half of the samples were conditioned in Pacific Ocean water for approximately 6 months at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory before being returned for mechanical characterization. The mechanical testing results showed that the Ultem 9085 and acrylonitrile styrene acrylate materials experienced little to no degradation in stiffness or strength after exposure to the marine environment. On the other hand, the nylon-based materials suffered significant stiffness and strength degradation (over 50% in some cases) after environmental conditioning. Ultimately, these data sets should serve as starting points to allow marine renewable energy developers to make informed additive manufacturing material choices for their prototype deployments.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX), 30 October - 2 November 2023, Atlanta, Georgia

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5700-87673


  • additive manufacturing
  • environmental degradation
  • fused deposition modeling
  • marine renewable energy
  • mechanical characterization


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