Formnext: Royal DSM, Chromatic 3D Materials, German RepRap to Develop Flexible 3D Printing Solutions

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formnext 2019 just wrapped up in Frankfurt, but we still have plenty of news to share from the show floor, including the announcement of a new partnership between global science-based company Royal DSM, Chromatic 3D Materials, and German RepRap (GRR). Together, the three will be working to develop flexible, high-performance 3D printing solutions in polyurethane (PU) parts for a variety of industries, such as rail, footwear, and automotive.

Flexible materials can be used to make many different parts, but it’s not always easy to 3D print with PU and similar materials. That’s why these three companies, from different parts of the 3D printing value chain, are working together to remove the barriers from, and make sure that manufacturers have proper access to, the necessary expertise and resources for 3D printing high-performance parts with Chromatic’s FlexTune line of durable, flexible, and reliable PU elastomer materials.

“Many high-performance parts require a degree of flexibility in their daily use. Removing barriers that stand in the way of the adoption of this technology by teaming up with partners like Chromatic and GRR clearly underscores the power of DSM’s 3D printing ecosystem. Combining these partners’ expertise across the 3D printing value chain helps make 3D printing more attainable and offers manufacturers a complete solution,” stated Hugo da Silva, DSM’s VP of Additive Manufacturing. “Together, we can unlock the full potential of additive manufacturing and scale 3D printing to industrial production levels.”

Image: Chromatic via YouTube

In this partnership, GRR will make its knowledge and equipment accessible to manufacturers interested in adopting the FlexTune materials. According to Chromatic, this versatile line of materials can help make 3D printed products that go all the way from a flexible Shore A hardness of 40 to a rigid Shore A of 90. The company states that its “ability to customize the product is almost limitless.”

“The introduction of FlexTune 3D printable polyurethanes elastomers is a vital step for additive manufacturing to becoming the industrial process for manufacturing flexible parts. Elastomers are no longer just for prototypes, but durable enough to withstand the rigors expected of performance materials in commercial applications,” stated Chromatic 3D Materials CEO Cora Leibig. “The partnership of DSM’s market knowledge, GRR’s advanced printing capability and Chromatic’s ability to adapt thermoset materials to additive manufacturing is an exciting leap forward for the industry that we are proud to be engaged in.”

Examples of some of the specific applications that could really benefit from parts made out of flexible materials include train braking system gaskets, insoles for shoes, noise-reducing buffers and mechanical clutches for power transmission in cars, and hoses and bellows.

This isn’t DSM’s first experience with Chromatic – last year, it led a Series A funding round for the next-generation 3D printing materials company, and the two originally teamed up to introduce and explore thermoset materials for 3D printed parts, which offer more resilience and durability than thermoplastics. Now, partnering with GRR, both companies will be able to further market Chromatic’s FlexTune material line – now available around the globe.

“Due to this great collaboration with DSM and Chromatic our customers can now manufacture thermoset material parts that are difficult or impossible to produce by injection moulding,” said German RepRap CEO Florian Bautz. “At the same time the final parts have the same mechanical properties as injection-moulded parts, which brings major advantages for the future.”

The complete 3D printing solution that these three partners are offering will help many manufacturers enjoy the benefits of using flexible 3D printing materials.

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