It seems like every other day, we’re hearing about 3D printer manufacturer Formlabs and its impressive collection of 3D printing resins, designed for applications ranging from dental to jewelry casting to manufacturing. At CES earlier this month, they introduced a reformulated Grey Resin, the experimental product platform Form X, and the platform’s first experimental material, Ceramic Resin. In 2016 alone, the company introduced the first biocompatible resin for desktop printers, an updated version of the Castable Resin, and at the end of October, Formlabs announced a new and improved version of industrial-grade Tough Resin, the new temperature-resistant High Temperature Resin, and the new wear-resistant, ductile Durable Resin. Today, the company is releasing its reformulated new Durable Resin, and surprise – it’s not yellow anymore.
The Durable Resin is the fourth material in the Formlabs engineering materials family, which also consists of Tough Resin, Flexible Resin, and High-Temp Resin. This stiff and flexible plastic is intended for use in prototyping polypropylene parts – parts printed using the new Durable Resin have impact strength, feature the glossy smoothness of everyday plastic, and can bend without completely breaking. The updated resin is suited for packaging, consumer product prototypes, and moving parts that are both low-wear and low-friction. You may be asking what could have possibly been updated already, since this resin was only just developed and introduced to the market a few months ago. First, a little background information…
Polypropylene is a strong yet flexible thermoplastic, formulated back in the 1950s, and now one of the most commonly used plastics worldwide. Product designers like the high impact resistance and low modulus the material offers. This polymer is typically used to make food containers, car bumpers, and plastic chairs; final parts made with polypropylene are manufactured through injection molding or CNC machining.
The new and improved ductile Durable Resin can be used in prototyping parts that have the same characteristics of this strong and flexible thermoplastic, parts like ball joints, impact-resistant cases, and snap fits that all feel, look, and act like polypropylene does. It is also good to use this resin for parts that need to deform several times, or where deformation is a better option than just cracking or breaking. Wear-resistant Durable Resin can also be used for prototyping flexures, vacuum formed parts, and large assemblies that have to be disassembled and later reassembled.
When Formlabs is working on new or reformulated 3D printing materials, the company puts a lot of emphasis on keeping “the focus on what qualities of that material the customer really cares about.” The first step is reaching out to their employees – asking the Formlabs engineers what they’re looking for and what they need. Then they move on to people outside of headquarters who are using Formlabs printers, to validate the engineers’ responses. Once they’ve gone through these two steps, the people working on the materials have a better idea of what to focus on.
So, what changed in this reformulation of the Durable Resin since it was introduced back in October? You may have noticed that it’s no longer yellow, but it’s not just because Formlabs didn’t like the color anymore. To improve upon its mechanical properties, the resin was considerably updated. As Formlabs worked on further developing and testing the Durable Resin, they “realized that it was worthwhile to change the formulation.”
Once the resin’s mechanical properties were amended, the company removed the component that gave Durable Resin its original yellow shade. Now, Durable Resin features a clear, frosted look…new and improved properties, new and improved color! The resin will require UV post-cure, and supports print resolutions of both 100 and 50 microns.
In order to print using the newly reformulated Formlabs Durable Resin, users need to check that their software, either PreForm software or Form 2 firmware, are completely up to date; you can download the latest software update for Mac and Windows here. Formlabs is very pleased with the improvements that were made to the resin, and is “excited to get the newly formulated Durable Resin into the hands of engineers and designers everywhere.” You can soon order the reformulated Durable Resin on the Formlabs online store, for $175, or request a sample part if you’d like to take a look for yourself first. Discuss in the Formlabs forum at 3DPB.com.