Plastic 3D printing relies on light-sensitive materials that are cured, or hardened, when exposed to light. Whether that’s FDM, SLA, DLP, or other, newer technologies, these materials are the basis of the final objects we see coming off of 3D printers. Dymax is in the business of manufacturing these light-sensitive materials, which are used for a wide variety of manufacturing technologies in addition to 3D printing. The company’s materials include adhesives, coatings, and oligomers, the latter of which are commonly used in 3D printing applications.
Dymax offers, specifically, Bomar oligomers, which are designed for formulating SLA, DLP, and inkjet 3D printing materials. These oligomers have several different varieties that lend themselves to varying 3D printing applications, with different viscosities for varying flow characteristics. We recently spoke with David B. Robitaille, Business Development Manager, Oligomers and Coatings, Global, at Dymax to learn more about these versatile materials.
What is an oligomer?
“Oligomers are molecules that are larger than a monomer (single repeating chemical unit), but smaller than a polymer (many repeating chemical units). At room temperature conditions, most monomers are free-flowing liquids, polymers tend to be solid, but oligomers can range from a viscous consistency like oil or honey up to a thick paste like peanut butter.”
How are Bomar® oligomers used in 3D printing applications?
“Bomar® oligomers are widely used as the backbone of UV-curable 3D printing formulations, including SLA, DLP, and 3d inkjet resins. Oligomers are combined with monomers, additives, and UV-reactive photoinitiators to produce a UV-curable 3D printing resin.”
What makes Bomar oligomers so well-suited to the formulation of 3D printing materials?
“Bomar oligomers have been designed with the needs of 3D printing in mind, including toughness, low shrinkage, thermal stability, and low color. Oligomers designed for thin film applications like coatings or inks may not necessarily have the same balance of properties that Bomar oligomers can provide.”
How many different oligomers are available?
“Dymax offers dozens of Bomar oligomers that can be used in 3D printing formulated resins, although we have a narrower selection of materials that we recommend as initial starting materials to test in your formulation.”
How does a customer know which oligomer is best for a particular application?
“There are a lot of variables that go into selecting an oligomer for a 3D printing resin, including desired mechanical properties, hydrophobicity, regulatory requirements, compatibility with certain monomers, and more. The best way to determine which materials to test in your application is to talk to contact our Dymax technical team to discuss the specific needs of your resin.”
Can custom materials be made?
“Dymax is always working on new materials for 3D printing, and can work with you on your specific needs to design an oligomer specifically suited to your application.”
You can learn more about Bomar oligomers and their different properties and functions here. You can also request a sample of any oligomer to assess the best material for your 3D printing needs.
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