A comparison of tensile failure in 3D-printed and natural sandstone

D. Vogler, S. D.C. Walsh, E. Dombrovski, M. A. Perras

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66 Citations (Scopus)


This work investigates the possibility of replication of natural rock specimens, which can be used to analyze rock mechanical behavior by subjecting a number of identical specimens to tensile tests and a variety of analysis methods. We compare the properties of fractures generated in artificial sandstone specimens to those generated in natural sandstone specimens. Artificial sandstone specimens, created using 3D additive manufacturing printing processes, were subject to tensile failure using the Brazilian test method and the results from these tests were compared to results from Brazilian tests conducted on natural sandstones. The specimens included two distinct types of synthetic rock, unaltered from the manufacturers typical process, and three natural sandstones. For each test, the loading history to failure of the specimens was recorded and the failure mode was confirmed using digital imaging techniques. In addition, three-dimensional images were taken of the fracture surfaces, which were then used to compare the geometric characteristics of all materials tested. The indirect tensile strength of the artificial sandstone specimens ranged between 1.0 and 2.8 MPa. Natural sandstone specimens with a wide range of indirect tensile strengths were tested for comparison. These included a strong sandstone, an intermediate sandstone, and a weak sandstone; which were found to have indirect tensile strength ranges of 10.5–25.5 MPa, 4.4–6.4 MPa, and 0.9–1.1 MPa, respectively. Digital image correlation confirmed that the artificial specimens generally failed in a tensile (mode I) fracture, similar to the natural specimens. Likewise, fracture surface roughness measures showed no clear distinction between weak natural and artificial sandstones. This indicates that there are distinct similarities between the fractures generated in the natural and artificial sandstones of comparable indirect tensile strengths. The three-dimensionally printed sandstone specimens are shown to exhibit indirect tensile strength, surface roughness and crack propagation behavior which resembles a weak natural sandstone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-235
Number of pages15
JournalEngineering Geology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D printing
  • Fracture mechanics
  • Fracture surfaces
  • Indirect tensile strength
  • Sandstone

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