There are many 3D printing technologies that can be used for different industries and applications. With stereolithography , material jetting , laser sintering, etc., companies can benefit from 3D printed parts in the automotive, aerospace, medical and dental industries, but it's not always the technology itself that counts. In most cases, the material used is even more important, because no matter how sophisticated technology cannot work without the right material.
The use of powder-based materials, and especially when it comes to polymers, allows users to broaden their horizons. As an expert in the production of such polymers, AM Polymers has consolidated its leading position in recent years, so that today it is considered an established partner and producer of polyethylene, polypropylene, polyamide, polyurethane or polybutylene terephthalate, among others. But what about the fields of application, the advantages and above all the innovative powder-based polymers? That's what we've taken a closer look at for you.
which will lead to an increase in sales of materials in this segment from $80 million in 2022 to $600 million in 2030. However, the list of applications using polymer powders is long, as shown by AM Polymers. So you can also find them in the manufacture of nozzle tips for firefighters, where a geometrically matched structure has improved performance, all using polypropylene/polybutylene terephthalate.
If we stay in the same field, electronic boxes for fire trucks have already been successfully manufactured using polybutylene terephthalate. It should however be noted that various functions had to be integrated, such as for example the electronic resistance, which however did not pose a problem thanks to the material used.
What are the benefits of AM Polymers polymer powders?
We know that additive manufacturing brings us a great advantage in terms of sustainability. However, the importance of materials should not be underestimated. In recent months in particular, the AM Polymers team has been able to celebrate great successes in terms of the recyclability of PA12: thanks to a special treatment, it is possible to reuse it with a refresh rate of 50%, without it is necessary to add new powder.
The use of this polyamide powder, available in black and white, results in exceptional quality after 3D printing, which does not indicate that the material has been reused. More conscious use is not the only sustainability factor: users can also reap enormous benefits in terms of profitability. If we compare for example a refresh rate of 50% of the PA12 to a rate of 10% of the TPU, there is a profitability of 43% compared to PA12 for a volume of 20 liters and 96% for a volume of 72 liters.
Another benefit users are experiencing is Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM). Whether rapid prototyping, tool manufacturing, manufacturing aids or series parts, if one is specifically interested in the design for the subsequent additive process with powder , we find that in addition to the advantages in terms of costs, we obtain a better performance of the 3D printed parts.
What many users don't see as a direct benefit of polymer powders is behind post-processing .. Dusting is an essential step in the process which makes it possible to obtain high quality parts. In recent years, AM Polymers has succeeded, in close collaboration with the post-processing company AMT and LuxYours, in ensuring that 3D printed parts are not only visually confused with injection molded parts, but that they also possess unique properties, such as transparency or gloss, after a spray treatment.
The novelties announced by the manufacturer
But what are the novelties offered by AM Polymers? In addition to the known injection molding types, the importance of flame retardant variants should not be forgotten. This is why AM Polymers has focused specifically on materials that have high flame resistance. This is in particular the TPU powder, which bears the name of ROLASERIT® TPU01FR, the sale of which will be launched at the Formnext exhibitionof this year.
Anyone familiar with handling TPU powders will know that bothersome fuming and even laser breakdown of the material can occur. The fact that ROLASERIT® TPU01FR powder does not generate flames, as is usually the case with standardized materials, also speaks in favor of safer use. In addition, unlike other TPU powders, this thermoplastic polyurethane, which practically does not age, has a significantly higher fluidity and the handling of AM Polymers' ROLASERIT® products is much easier.
In addition to TPU01FR, AM Polymers will launch three other flame retardant polymer powders (PP01FR, PBT01FR and PA11-01FR) in early 2023. All of these materials are not only halogen-free, but also meet UN-ECE R118 fire protection standards. .03, annexes 7 and 8. Also, additional tests according to UL94 fire protection standard will follow, and more next year, so that they can be used in different fields. All these materials are intended for the aftermarket for serial use.
At the beginning of 2021, AM Polymers had already enriched its range with its PBT and PA11 as a carbon fiber reinforced variant. Such composite polymers are used in the traditional injection molding market, where greater thermal and mechanical resistance of parts is required. In particular with regard to the production of end applications by 3D printing, AM Polymers has supplied PA6, PP and PA12 powders with carbon fibers of extremely high stiffness, up to 7300 MPa, which then strongly limits deformation of these materials.