Stratasys adds Black ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic for 3D printing
Stratasys introduced black color ULTEM 9085, a high-performance thermoplastic, for use in its FDM additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) process.
From SABIC Innovative Plastics, this material is strong, light in weight, and has other desirable characteristics, including flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) rating. This rating is a safety standard that ensures a material won’t promote a fire, release harmful smoke, or emit toxic fumes, and it is particularly valued in the transportation industries.
The black color has several benefits: it gives a uniform look to product assemblies, helps mask dirt or grease found in mechanical systems or under the hood, in the fuselage, or on the manufacturing floor, and can eliminate the need for non-value-added post-processing step of painting or coating.
Truck fender and accessory manufacturer, Minimizer, uses ULTEM when creating both fender and mounting component prototypes. Mounting brackets are commonly made from glass fiber and tough, rigid plastics, which can be a challenge to prototype, noted Minimizer mechanical engineer, Martin Larsen.
If necessity is the mother of invention, sometimes destruction is its father. This was the case with the tough-as-nails semi-truck fenders that Minimizer designs and manufactures in its Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, facility. Minimizer is in the growing market of truck owners using fuel-efficient super-single tires. On these rigs, one wide tire on each side takes the place of two narrow ones. This lighter-weight configuration allows drivers to haul more payload and reduces rolling resistance so trucks go farther on less fuel.
Making narrower fenders and the bracket assemblies that go with them means creating all-new tooling — a big investment. It’s crucial for Larsen to get the designs right before committing to tooling, so functional prototyping is essential. And in Minimizer’s trademark rugged testing environment, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is the only 3D printing technology up to the task. Its real engineering thermoplastics include ULTEM 9085, the all-around toughest rapid-prototyping material in terms of mechanical strength and resistance to heat and chemicals.
With Minimizer’s onsite Fortus 3D Production System, Larsen can build functional prototypes in just hours or, for large parts, days. And now that Stratasys offers ULTEM in black, those parts are right at home on the shop floor, masking grease and fingerprints and taking abuse with no painted finish to scuff and scratch.
In the truck bay outside his office, Larsen drills into a black FDM prototype of the super-single fender he’s developing and bolts it to a truck with its bracket assembly (also an FDM prototype) to verify alignment and clearance. “When we make an FDM part and mount it on a truck there’s a lot of drilling, using fasteners and even mating parts together. I look at it in CAD, but it’s hard to be sure until you get the prototype on the truck and make sure it’s the form you want,” he said. “We found that (because) the ULTEM has high tensile strength and is rigid, it’s a good alternative for us for prototyping. Having the black material is a bonus. We don’t have to spend the time to finish the part, and we get the same material properties we look for in the (standard) ULTEM material.”
On a dirt road nearby, the FDM part holds up to a dusty ride, with gravel flying.
Like standard ULTEM 9085, the black color material has a V-0 flammability rating. The material is heat resistant up to 320° F (160° C) and is inherently flame-retardant, offering full FST compliance including OSU heat release of less than 55/55, or 55 kw min/m2 for heat release and 55 kw/m2 for peak heat release.
The material’s impact strength also makes it appealing to the aerospace industry.
In addition to the automotive and aerospace industries, Stratasys anticipates that black ULTEM 9085 will be useful for construction, agriculture and industrial equipment manufacturers.
The material will be available for Stratasys’ FDM 900mc and FDM 400mc systems.