3D Systems and EMS-GRILTECH announced they have entered into a strategic partnership to enhance additive manufacturing materials development. Combining 3D Systems’ expertise and leadership as an additive manufacturing solutions partner with EMS-GRILTECH’s (a Business Unit of EMS Group) expertise in the specialized manufacturing of polyamides has enabled the companies to introduce a novel nylon copolymer – DuraForm PAx Natural. This material possesses properties similar to injection molded plastics and features high impact resistance with high elongation at break in any direction. DuraForm PAx Natural is designed to be used with any commercially-available selective laser sintering (SLS) printer, regardless of the manufacturer – facilitating ease of integration into existing production workflows.
3D Systems is the exclusive distributor of this material which can be used to manufacture tough, lightweight, production-grade parts for applications such as orthotics, tooling handles, splints, and braces, ducting in rugged environments, living hinges, liquid reservoirs, and enclosures requiring high impact and high toughness. DuraForm PAx Natural is designed to print at a low temperature (i.e., 120°C) which facilitates efficiencies in both printing and post-processing. When compared to other nylon materials (i.e., PA-11 and PA-12), DuraForm PAx Natural enables significantly reduced time to parts-in-hand which not only helps service bureaus and manufacturers maintain their competitiveness but also helps accelerate supply chains. The low printing temperature of this material enables high throughput, and its designation as a clean running material results in low operator maintenance. With the lower printing temperature, parts can be ready to ship the day after an order is received. Similar PA12-based parts will need another day before a part is ready to be shipped.
DuraForm PAx Natural possesses very impressive long-term stability ratings of over five years indoor for mechanical properties and color. When parts are post-processed using vapor-honing, finished parts have excellent translucency and smooth finish which enhances the breadth of applications for which this material can be used. In addition, the vapor-honed DuraForm PAx Natural material moves the elongation at yield capability past that of PA-11 and PA-12 materials. This material also has high reuse rates (a 30% refresh rate is recommended) which helps reduce waste and decrease production costs.
“We’re very excited to be able to collaborate with EMS-GRILTECH in a way that allows us to not only advance our innovation roadmap but also advance materials performance for the industry,” said Dr. Edwin Hortelano, senior vice president, materials engineering & development, 3D Systems. “With DuraForm PAx Natural, we’re not only bringing a superior product with leading mechanical properties, we’re also delivering a new material for use with any SLS printing technology, which we intend to expand to other powder-bed fusion platforms. This is our first step in opening 3D Systems’ materials portfolio to the entire industry which allows a broader pool of manufacturers to realize the benefits of this unmatched material. We look forward to introducing more PAx-based materials among others in the future.”
Simon Maier, head of sales and marketing at EMS-GRILTECH, said, “The EMS Group is an established worldwide leader in high-performance polymers for injection molding and powder-based applications. EMS-GRILTECH has observed the powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing industry with keen interest over the last years, realizing that the technology is limited by the performance of the available materials. Thus, together with 3D Systems, we decided to use our expertise to develop materials that exhibit excellent performance in PBF systems and at the same time show technical properties that match those of injection molding. EMS-GRILTECH is excited about the capabilities of DuraForm PAx Natural and we’re looking forward to creating added value for the additive manufacturing industry with further material novelties in the future.”
While just recently introduced, DuraForm PAx Natural is already receiving positive feedback from end-users. “DuraForm PAx Natural fundamentally disrupts the SLS technology cost structure as well as enables us to profitably produce parts that were previously difficult to justify using a powder material,” said Mike Littrell, president, CIDEAS Inc (buildparts.com). “This innovative material offers polypropylene-like mechanical properties, has high elongation, high impact, and offers a high recycle rate. We have a customer that frequently orders large, one-off unique parts that were not ideally suited for a powder process. DuraForm PAx Natural is the perfect material to use for this type of application and build size while being capable of producing a beautifully finished product.”