AMS Spring 2023

Developments in Acrylate Oligomers for 3D Printing Inks & Resins

6K SmarTech

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The expansion of 3D printing into rapid manufacturing applications and strong market demand for next-generation oligomers, has been coupled with an increased demand for materials with a wide variety of physical properties. Rigid materials, with high tensile strength and low elongation, are readily available, but offerings of tough, flexible materials with high elongation are more limited.

As more and more manufacturers look to replace traditional mass manufacturing processes with 3D printing, they are striving to create new, higher quality printing materials that overcome problems with deformation, have superior surface quality, and provide better mechanical properties.

From a commercial perspective, 3D printing is very appealing, especially in applications where only relatively small number of parts are required. Additionally, strong market demand for next-generation oligomers for formulating inks and resins used in SLA, DLP, and 3D inkjet printers has been coupled with an increased need for materials with a wide variety of physical properties. However, there are several challenges preventing the realization of this potential; speed of manufacturing and meeting material performance properties being the most important.

Background

Widely used as the backbone of UV-curable 3D-printing formulations for SLA, DLP, and 3D inkjet printers, oligomers are combined with monomers, additives, and UV-reactive photoinitiators to produce UV-curable 3D-printing inks and resins. The formulation of these products requires a focus on bulk properties of the cured material such as tensile strength and elongation. Rigid printing materials are readily available, but offerings of tough, flexible products with high elongation and good impact resistance and rebound capability are more limited. A selection of Bomar® oligomers from Dymax Oligomers & Coatings were designed with these 3D printing needs in mind, including toughness, low shrinkage, thermal stability, and low color.

This selection consists of next-generation oligomers with varying Tgs that allow for flexibility in mechanical properties. Formulators looking to eliminate object deformation can select an oligomer with a high Tg and low linear shrinkage. The oligomers also cover a large range of viscosities, so formulators can achieve the flow characteristics they desire. In addition to the mechanical properties these products provide, they also are non-yellowing for higher clarity and offer color stability for better looking objects. Formulations that utilize Bomar oligomers also gain high impact resistance, making them more durable against dropping and every day wear. Additionally, oligomers for thin film applications like coatings or inks may not necessarily have the same balance of properties that Bomar oligomers can provide.

Features & Benefits of Bomar® Oligomers

  • Excellent mechanical properties for products that can be used in applications beyond prototyping
  • Superior surface quality and deformation resistance for better aesthetics
  • High impact resistance for more durable products
  • Variety of viscosities for desired flow characteristics

Light-Curing Equipment for 3D Printing Post Cure and Rework

After a 3D model is built, it may be necessary to supply additional curing energy to the part to ensure that optimized material properties are achieved. Dymax offers UV light-curing flood lamp systems for post-curing and spot lamp systems for rework and repair of 3D-printed models.

 

If you want to learn more about next-generation 3D printing oligomers, download our white paper New Developments in Acrylate Oligomers for 3D Printing.”

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