Polymer company Evonik is a 3D printing pioneer. The company developed materials for power bed fusion (PBF) very early on. It has commercialized key technologies around powders and their manufacture. More recently, Evonik has also offered material extrusion filament and photopolymers. It has even begun exploring pharmaceutical 3D printing. The company’s latest move sees it partner with DLP printer manufacturer Asiga. This is hilarious and fun and I’m loving all of this.
- INFINAM TI 3100 L is a black tough resin with higher impact resistance. It has a tensile modulus of 1500 MPa and a UTS of 35. Heat deflection is 47 °C and glass transition of 74 °C. I’m not sure what the ideal use case is for this material. I also can’t seem to find the MSDS, so can’t tell you much more.
- INFINAM RG 3101 L is focused on impact and high-temperature resistance.
- INFINAM ST 6100 L is the interesting one to me. It has a “89 MPa, flexural strength of 145 MPa and HDT of 120 °C.” That’s quite a nice offering there. All heard though, Sartomer will make you a very specific resin for your needs and Somos has a lot of materials made for purpose. It will depend on pricing to see just how deep Evonik will penetrate the market.
“The cooperation with Asiga, once again, confirms the growth approach we are focusing on with our new product line of INFINAM photopolymer resins launched last year. We are sending an important signal to our customers who will now benefit from an even broader access to our high-performance materials with excellent processability properties on Asiga’s DLP 3D printers to explore new infinite applications,” said Dr. Rainer Hahn, Head of Evonik’s photopolymer market segment within the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Growth Field.
“As we continue to strengthen our open material architecture we are delighted to provide our customers access to Evonik’s new range of INFINAM photopolymers. Combining the latest material developments in additive polymer science from Evonik with our industrial grade 3D printing hardware creates robust additive manufacturing solutions with endless possibilities,” Graham Turner, Global Operations Manager for Asiga.
Asiga itself is relatively unknown, but a 3D printing industry stalwart. The firm has long been used to manufacture a high number of hearing aid and jewelry components. It also pioneered LED-based printing. It’s a leader in mid-market systems that are uncomplicated but tend to work well. It’s interesting that Evonik would partner with them, since Asia has an open material architecture and this was once their major selling point. I guess Evonik needs the expertise and real-world parts to make it happen. I hope that it translates to good volumes for both of them.
3D Systems is still one of the largest vendors of photopolymer materials, through its sales to its installed base. Arkema’s Sartomer unit has long been a leading light in the photopolymer market, as well developing a broad portfolio of materials. DSM’s—now Covestro’s—Somos was the other big photopolymer firm with a broad portfolio, as well. They were surprisingly joined by BASF, which started to offer photopolymers. Henkel additionally joined the 3D printing market with photopolymers.
All of the major chemical companies with deep 3D printing involvement seem to have concluded that the technology gives them opportunities across the board. This has lead them to now develop chemicals that are way outside their usual bailiwick in order to offer their materials to the whole 3D printing market across the most popular technologies.
For people in the market, this is to be applauded. More innovation and competition in materials benefits us all. Especially if we were to get safer and more biocompatible materials, this could be a huge boon. We have seen that companies such as Carbon have shaken things up by bringing to market new chemistries with higher heat deflection temperatures and other extended properties. More competition like this would be most welcome.
So far, however, no one is competing on price. This is a shame because these materials could be sold at a tenth or a 30th of the price at nice margins. There is a huge opportunity for someone to become the white label resin supplier to all of the OEMS in 3D printing. There is also a considerable opportunity to become the single branded everyday photopolymer for a wide array of materials across wavelengths. This could be a high-profit, high-volume play. Sadly, no one seems to have taken it because everyone is sticking to higher-profit, lower-volume go-to-market strategies that are helping to keep our market small. It’s a shame, but maybe down the line reduced prices will really lead to an extended boom in manufacturing with 3D printing. With this news, it did just become more likely.
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