The wide variety of applications that are being created using 3D printing calls for a large range of materials to choose from. While some products need durability and flexibility, others require resistance to high temperatures and specific visual properties. As industries around the world find more applications for 3D printing, material development follows suit, and we want to make sure our customers always have access to the best of the new innovations. This year, Materialise launched a new metal grading system and five new materials, which you can discover this month at Formnext, to provide users with additional options and enable the creation of brand new ideas. From smooth and elastic to firm and colorful, here is a roundup of the latest innovative materials in which you can now have your parts 3D printed at Materialise.
TPU is both durable and flexible.
Introduced in September, the new Ultrasint TPU 90A-01 material was launched as an upgrade to the previous TPU offering. It is meant to outperform its predecessor in terms of elasticity, tolerances, density, and surface quality – and 85% of beta testers agreed that this was the case. TPU is a flexible material with high elongation, great shock absorption, and the ability to avoid deformities from use. Meanwhile, Ultrasint TPU also offers smooth surfaces and clear details, making it a good choice for a wide range of 3D-printed products – from grippers to swimming goggles.
Consistently updating and improving our range of materials is important to keep customers at the cutting edge of the technology, including those which already formed a part of our offering, such as the previous TPU.
“We already have many rigid materials. But flexible or semiflexible materials for 3D printing are less common. This makes TPU an important player in our complete range.”
- Research Project Manager Giovanni Vleminckx
Polypropylene is one of the most commonly used plastics in manufacturing.
Polypropylene (PP) is an incredibly versatile plastic that has been used widely in manufacturing for decades. PP joined the Materialise offering as a well-known material that is happily welcomed to 3D printing by manufacturers across the world. Its stiff, flexible, chemically resistant composure makes it the perfect fit for innumerable applications, whether they be prototypes or end-use parts.
A notable benefit of PP is its use as a functional prototype. Since it’s so widely produced as an end-part already, it’s invaluable to be able to 3D print prototypes using PP as well. Manufacturers can see their prototypes exactly as they would be used as an end-part and test them for their exact functions. PP is a natural fit in AM since it has already been in use in traditional manufacturing for so long. As a tried-and-true material, PP can provide huge benefits as a new material option, especially for cases where AM provides cost or operational benefits over other manufacturing methods.
This new material is a flame-retardant and chemical-resistant option perfect for end-use parts in even the most demanding environments, such as electrical and aerospace applications. With a material that is made to use in such regulated environments, it’s critical to ensure that it is certified for these types of applications. PA 2210 FR is Blue Card-certified and passes required compliance tests. Blue Card is a UL certification granted to AM plastic materials that can pass multiple safety and performance tests. Presently, PA 2210 FR is truly unique as it is the only material with this classification that is suitable for powder bed fusion technologies.
Most metal materials are now available in both standard and performance grades.
Materialise is already well-involved in the Metal 3D Printing world, but in 2019 we created a distinction between standard and performance grades for metal materials. There are three current materials available for Metal AM use with options between the two grades – aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel.
With this distinction, users can easily decide which classification is appropriate for particular projects. Specifically, standard grade metals are ideal for prototypes and simple end-use parts. Standard grade materials comply with industry-standard quality requirements but have density, strength, and hardness values equivalent to those of cast parts, which is slightly lower than the strength and density of performance grade metal. We recommend using performance grade metals for applications that have demanding standards, such as those that require specialized quality tests. This grading system creates a clear divide between materials that are approved for certain strict applications and those that are not, resulting in a simple choice for companies who wish to design parts using these materials.
Vero is available in multiple, opaque colors.
This year we expanded our PolyJet palette with multiple Vero colors. Vero is a more rigid option as opposed to Agilus, a PolyJet material with a flexible structure. Vero is a general-purpose resin with enhanced mechanical properties and the ability to bend, but perhaps its most advantageous quality is its versatility. Colors may be mixed and matched to create the perfect tone and Vero can even be blended with other materials in order to achieve the desired level of rigidity or translucency.
3D-printed snake skulls in VeroClear.
As is apparent from the name, VeroClear is similar to the Vero material, but transparent. VeroClear is a wonderful option for detailed models and prototypes requiring clear parts. Thanks to its transparency, it is also ideal for parts where liquid or other items must be seen through it. Similarly to Vero, VeroClear is often used in combination with other PolyJet materials to create various translucent shades, patterns, and flexibility levels, offering many additional opportunities to customers that were not previously possible.