The R&D 100 Award was established 55 years ago in 1963 to recognize R&D pioneers and their revolutionary ideas in science and technology. Each year, the top 100 performers are identified and rewarded for their advances in research and development in products, processes, materials, or software during the previous year. Past winners have been developers of sophisticated testing equipment, disruptive chemistry breakthroughs, and new biomedical products, among other areas. The awards are distributed across five areas: Analytical/Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical Devices/Materials, Process/Prototyping, and Software/Services. In the past three years, they have also given four special recognition awards for Market Disruptor Services, Market Disruptor Products, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Green Tech.
This year’s winners included Techmer PM, which was recognized for its work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and BASF for the design of two new 3D printable engineering thermoplastic compounds. On hand to accept the award at Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando Florida were Tom Drye, Techmer’s Vice President for Emerging Markets and Innovation, and Product Development Manager Alan Franc. The finalists were chosen by a panel consisting of 50 judges representing leaders from a variety of fields. Techmer PM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Manuck described the significance of the award to his company:
“The R&D 100 Awards have long been considered the most globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation, honoring great R&D pioneers and their revolutionary ideas in science and technology. It is an honor to be included as one of the newest members of the elite R&D 100 Awards community along with our collaborative partners, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and BASF.”
The compounds, Electrafil PPS 3DP and Electrafil PPSU 3DP were developed specifically for high-temperature autoclave tooling applications used in composite part production. The composites are designed to be utilized in newer, pellet-fed 3D printers. The carbon-fiber composites have been optimized to undergo minimal dimensional changes even when exposed to temperatures as high as 350 degrees during a 100 psi autoclave cycle. In addition, the materials are fully recyclable, something that is particularly beneficial as these kinds of large scale molded parts, some as large as 900 pounds, often undergo a number of iterations before they are sufficiently refined for final production. As Drye explained:
“These innovative compounds have enabled the transition of additive manufacturing from prototyping demonstrations to demanding industrial, aerospace, automotive, and military applications. The composition and rheology of each have been developed for deposition rates exceeding 50 pounds/hour through a 1 inch extruder. Additionally, the compounds are designed to tolerate process changes during long build times and extended residence times. This is a game changer in that it drastically cuts the expense and time associated with traditional metal tools.”
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