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Purpose: 3D printing techniques such as material extrusion based additive manufacturing provide a promising and cost effective manufacturing technique. However, the main challenges in industrial applications remain with the quality assurance of mass produced parts. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of compression moulding as a rapid consolidation method for 3D printed composites, with an aim to reduce voids and defects and thus improving quality assurance of printed parts. Design/methodology/approach: To develop an understanding of the inherent voids in 3D parts and the influence on mechanical properties, material extrusion additively manufactured (MEX) parts were post consolidated by using compression moulding at elevated temperature. Findings: This study comparatively investigates the influence of carbon fibre length, undergoing process induced scission during filament extrusion and IM and its impact on void content and mechanical properties. It was found that the post consolidation significantly reduced the voids and the mechanical properties were significantly improved compared to the nonconsolidated material extrusion additively manufactured parts, reaching values similar to those of the IM parts. Practical implications: Adaptation of extrusion-based additive manufacturing with hybridisation of reliable compression moulding technology transcends into series production of highly adaptive end user applications, such as drones, advanced sports prosthetics, competitive cycling and more. Originality/value: This paper adds to the current understanding of 3D printing and provides a step towards quality assurance for mass production.
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