To participate in the next Brainstorm,
away from the prototyping stage of product development and into
production. 3D printing is claiming its place as a manufacturing tool
– for vacuum forming, paper pulp tooling, jigs and fixtures, and end-use parts – and that is where the industry will grow.
What we’re seeing now is a demand for materials to encompass
more properties in a single 3D print. We have materials that print in
multiple colors, durometers, and with a certain degree of diversity,
but the next opportunity for growth lies in furthering the capability
for completely consolidated manufacturing.
I expect the next material development phase will be in assembled
3D prints, with both metals and plastics printed simultaneously. I
see a trend expanding into assembled, functional, and involved units
with multiple application uses built into a single print, this will transform production lines. Materials developed in the future will focus
more on viable, long-term functions as a final product. New materials
will take 3D printing further into true manufacturing.
Vice President of Product
& Channel Management
Advances in rapid prototyping
materials include improvements in
tear and thermal resistance, shape
memory, stiffness, and photorealistic color.
In terms of composite print-
ing, 3D Systems has announced
a new elastomer material, with up to 700% elongation, low
Shore A value of 30, enhanced tear resistance, and excellent
shape memory. This material can run in tandem with ABS-like or
Polycarbonate-like rigid materials to produce 14 functional mate-
rial composites with unique and specific physical properties. This
material features exceptional toughness in single print jobs or as
individual features on a single part.
To suit the toughest, most demanding end use and functional
prototyping applications, a new selective laser sintering (SLS)
composite material uses both glass and aluminum. The glass filled
nylon print material offers maximum stiffness and elevated ther-
mal resistance for applications that require the minimum material
flexibility and higher temperature environments or exposures. The
aluminum nylon print material has a high strength-to-weight ratio
and enhanced thermal resistance for demanding applications where
rigid articles are required, but weight reduction is desired, such as
automotive and aircraft parts.
3D Systems has also developed a wax resin hybrid casting material to be used on the ProJet 1200 micro-SLA printer. This material
enables non-technical direct investment casting using the same
investment materials as common lost-wax casting, for parts such as
jewelry and small medical devices. Also, new materials are printing
jewelry mock-ups or counter-top samples without the expense of precious metals and casting, and a new clear material ideal for samples
Additionally, new plastic-based powder and color binders for the
ProJet 4500 and ColorJet Printers provide vivid, photorealistic color in
a light-weight and durable plastic. This allows for the full color printing of parts with delicate features.
Expectations for future materials include: faster imaging materials,
closing the gap between conventional injection molding processes,
improved mechanical properties and surface finishes, and long term
stability. Additionally, it would be great to see expanded properties to
enable new applications.
This 3D printed rake was printed with ASA, an FDM material similar to ABS
that is more UV resistance for use in outdoor applications. Image courtesy of
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.
SLS chrome plated parts. Image courtesy of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.