AMS Spring 2023

3D Systems’ New SLA 3D Printing Resin Inspired by Motorsports Applications

6K SmarTech

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3D Systems launched a new tough, production-grade acrylate resin designed to be used with the company’s stereolithography (SLA) technology. The material called Accura AMX Rigid Black is part of a complete additive manufacturing solution for customers to rapidly address a broad range of applications in markets like automotive and motorsports, consumer goods, and service bureaus. 3D Systems’ latest customer-centric innovation is inspired in part by the advanced production application requirements of the European engineering center Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR), which has already tested the material in several motorsports applications. It will be one of many planned production-grade industrial SLA resins that the company plans to add to its portfolio of more than 130 materials.

What sets this production-grade resin apart from others is that it facilitates large, structural, load-bearing parts. As a result, 3D Systems said the product is ideal for custom end-use components, large manufacturing aids, jigs, fixtures, and direct production to replace injection molding or soft tooling processes. It also highlighted several other properties, including similar stress toughness performance as standard thermoplastics and a surface quality comparable to injection molded plastics capable of withstanding the rigors of long-term mechanical use. In addition, the product is compatible with the company’s SLA technology platforms ProX 800, ProJet 7000 HD, and ProJet 6000 HD.

3D Systems Senior VP of Materials Engineering and Development Edwin Hortelano said the material would address various new product applications with additive manufacturing, such as the production of end-use parts by service bureaus. Hortelano believes that the combination of Accura AMX Rigid Black with 3D Systems’ SLA printing technology will allow service bureaus to “more efficiently, and cost-effectively” meet their customers’ needs.

Materials scientists engineered Accura AMX Rigid Black for long-lasting mechanical performance and stability in any environment. Before its release, they tested it for up to eight years of indoor and one and a half years of outdoor mechanical performance. Part of the Accura material family, this product was partly inspired by TGR’s advanced production application requirements to accelerate the production of its sports cars. As the motorsport performance brand of Japanese automaker Toyota, TGR has divisions in several racing disciplines, including the British GT Championship and the World Rally Championship, which it is currently leading.

Nautilus cabinet for 4″ full-range speaker. This acoustic amplifier is produced in Accura AMX Rigid Black and designed by Jesper Nygaard Sorensen. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

In 2019, 3D Systems and TGR Europe teamed up to “change automotive engineering,” hoping to benefit from each other’s cutting-edge technology. Focused on developing first-to-market manufacturing solutions, the partners wanted to advance laser sintering technologies and a portfolio of materials with improved properties to meet the rigorous demands of the sport.

During this time, TGR has gained extensive experience with 3D Systems’ Figure 4 materials and was particularly impressed by the mechanical properties of the company’s Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10 plastic, engineered to give long-term environmental UV and humidity stability. However, TGR claimed it had a “vision” for a CNC fixture that would be larger than the build size of the Figure 4 printers. Now, the racing company relies on Accura AMX Rigid Black to deliver larger, complex SLA production parts, including full-scale manufacturing aids, stated TGR Group Leader Production Engineering and Future Technologies Alexander Liebold.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Car 69 at the World Rally Championship. Image courtesy of Toyota Gazoo Racing.

“We recently used the material to develop 3D printed fixtures for stabilizing larger automotive components for CNC milling. Using Accura AMX Rigid Black, we achieved 90% time savings and 60% cost savings compared to the previous handwork process for a batch of 40 parts. In addition, unlike other additive production technologies, parts in Accura AMX Rigid Black provide very smooth sidewalls and superior isotropic strength, critical for accurate jigs and fixtures that are in constant use. Now we can turn around any large-scale part and be confident it will perform as required, for as long as we need. This is a real game-changer for production manufacturing,” explained Liebold.

Available starting July 20, 2021, the material is one of many launches and announcements by 3D Systems this year, including the recent release of another material from the Accura family for testing applications in motorsports, a 50,000 square foot addition to its Denver facility, and a landmark expansion into regenerative medicine. Focused heavily on reinvesting for growth, 3D Systems promised exciting opportunities ahead for the remainder of 2021.

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