German RepRap, a leading German manufacturer of FFF 3D printers and ebalta Kunststoff GmbH, manufacturer of polyurethane and epoxy resins, present a new polyurethane (PU) based material that can be used in additive manufacturing. The customizable properties of the material offer the flexibility to fulfill a range of requirements.
Once printed, the polyurethane material has isotropic mechanical properties from chemical crosslinking. The unique feature of this material is that is can be 3D printed in its liquid state, eliminating the softening or melting process that often occurs through a 3D printing deposit nozzle.
The new PU material was introduced in June 2017 at PSE Europe 2017 in Munich, at the booth of ebalta Kunststoff GmbH. German RepRap pioneered liquid additive manufacturing (LAM) and presented the technology in November of 2016 at the Formnext trade show in Frankfurt.
The PU material was developed to create a range of properties, from soft to hard. The manufacturing process produces a comparable structure to that yielded from the FFF process. However, the PU material enables the printing of highly complex parts, which may be difficult or impossible with existing injection molding technology. Most importantly, the mechanical properties are virtually identical to those of an injection-molded part. This new ability to process polyurethane-based materials opens up whole new areas of application, such as prototype construction or functional models for consumer goods. The special properties of PU can meet a variety of requirements (e.g., specific strength and flame retardant materials). Processing at room temperature is energy efficient, and the material exhibits low material shrinkage between 1 and 2%. This makes challenges, such as thermal warping or detachment from the print bed, things of the past.
Applications for PU materials are shoe soles, soccer balls, instrument panels, all types of seals, hoses, and sealants. Thanks to their excellent mechanical properties, polyurethanes are suitable for special applications, such as those requiring high resistance to wear. This makes them suitable for applications in virtually all industries, especially automotive, aeronautical, and construction.
German RepRap GmbH