BASF Forward AM Showcases Collaboration, New Materials, & Sustainability at Formnext 2023


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Fresh off a positive mid-year financial report, BASF Forward AM flew into formnext 2023, and like so many others, took advantage of the international 3D printing trade show to make some big announcements. In addition to launching the Additive Manufacturing Industrialization Navigator (AM I Navigator) Initiative with fellow industry heavyweights Siemens, DyeMansion, EOS, and HP, the BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH brand also announced several new product launches at the event in Frankfurt. These functional materials, which open up new customer applications, were at the booth this week, where the company was also showcasing its continued commitment to collaboration and sustainability in the AM industry.

In terms of collaboration, the company hosted, and participated in, several networking events at formnext, including product launches, a workshop on lattice generation, coffee break discussions focused on sustainability and digitalization, and a presentation about “Enabling Rapid Molding Solutions with Ultracur3D RG 3280.”

CEO and Managing Director Martin Back also took part in a keynote panel discussion about “The Power of Collaboration in the Value Chain,” and Forward AM teamed up with AM Ventures, DyeMansion, HP, EOS, Siemens, and 3D Printing Industry to hold a fun afterwork party at the end of the first day. I only stopped in at the “Rave Til AM Party – One Industry Under a Groove” for a short while, but it was absolutely hopping, with a DJ, photo booth, food carts, bars, and Ping Pong.

Forward AM launched several new materials at formnext this week, including the rigid, flame-retardant Ultracur3D RG 9400 B FR. With a temperature performance of up to 250°C, it can be used to print production parts that require UL 94 V0 rating. The halogen-free photopolymer, available in black, is a good option for replacement parts in industrial environments, as well as demanding applications in custom jigs and fixtures, housings, and electronics, due to its temperature stability, functionality, and low viscosity.

Application Technology Specialist Elisa Jara told me that the new Ultracur3D RG 9400 B FR is “high-impact.” She also showed me the new P3 Stretch 80 material, developed by Forward AM for the Stratasys Origin One P3 DLP printer. This stretchy material for elastomeric prototypes and targeted applications like seals, grips, and gaskets features a medium Shore A Hardness of 80, and, as Jara told me, is “very easy to print” and process. However, this one isn’t available for purchase just yet.

The next new material is the rubber-like Ultrasint TPU 90A LT, a flexible base material option in the company’s Ultrasint TPU portfolio. Stiffer, easy to process, and more lightweight, with a higher rebound, the material is great for printing parts that need increased UV and hydrolysis resistance. As Tobias Haefele, Product Manager Powder Bed Fusion, told me, it’s meant for performance applications in consumer goods, such as personal protection like helmets, and footwear, including midsoles and insoles, and even orthotics.

“We’ve seen in the past our other existing materials in the market have been too heavy, and too soft, not reaching the right rebound and stiffness for high-performance consumer applications,” Haefele explained. “This material can really enable lightweight consumer applications. What makes it unique is a different chemistry, so by its chemistry, the printed part is lighter. The rebound is something which goes to the limit of the chemistry itself, so you can bounce it. Then it’s a tradeoff – balancing of stiffness and rebound.”

He offered a quick demonstration of the orange ball above, 3D printed in the new Ultrasint TPU 90A LT, and I can tell you, it does bounce! I can see how the rebound this material offers would be really great for footwear.

Ultrasint PA11 rCF is for customers who like the performance offered by PA11 Black CF, but want something that’s more sustainable. This material is meant for powder bed fusion printing of high rigidity and strength applications, such as automotive, industrial, and manufacturing. It features a high strength to weight ratio, which is important for lightweight structures, and high impact resistance, making it a good replacement for metal. Available in black, Ultrasint PA11 rCF also offers good heat-aging performance, and because it’s bio-derived from castor oil and reinforced with recycled carbon fibers, it has a much lower environmental footprint than some other materials.

Forward AM also launched Ultrafuse PLA Tough, another bio-based material that’s good for orthotics, as well as prostheses. Available in natural and black, the company says this FFF material is seven times stronger, and seven times faster to print, than standard PLA, and offers a consistent performance, making it well-suited for prototyping and jigs and fixtures. But the most exciting feature is its biocompatibility.

“The very new thing about this material is that it’s biocompatible,” Product Manager Paul Schepers told me. “It actually has all the certifications, so you can use it for skin contact applications. And besides that, it’s really tough, and heat resistant up to 150°C.”

The cast he showed me, printed out of this bio-based material, also has an optimized design, so more of them can fit in a box for shipping; both go hand-in-hand with the company’s sustainability focus.

Speaking of this, Forward AM showcased the parts and products at its formnext booth on sustainably built displays, and reports continuing success, and growth, of its #ProjectZero sustainability initiatives and goals. This is the company’s plan of long-term commitments, such as developing more sustainable production methods and products, to help build a greener future by lowering its carbon footprint. Forward AM is also studying the impact that the AM industry has on our planet, and developed and implemented Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies to do so.

At formnext, the company announced the availability of four new LCA studies for its Ultrafuse ABS, PET, rPET, and PLA filaments. Forward AM analyzed various scenarios using these materials, and found that they demonstrate major decreases in environmental impact. In their recently released environmental study on CO2 reduction, when comparing values for the same material, the company reports that they were able to reduce their carbon impact due to changes they implemented in spools, packaging, and energy. For example, Forward AM claims they achieved a 69% carbon reduction for rPET with these types of changes.

“Additive Manufacturing is the strategic element of any manufacturing business that wants to future-proof its activities. In the race against time, adoption of existing AM applications and collaboration to create new ones is a matter of survival. And at every step of the way, we have to consider our environmental footprint,” Back said in a press release. “I am proud that the products and sustainability measures that we’re launching at Formnext bring new innovation dimensions to an industry that is under pressure to transform.”

Forward AM says more LCA studies will come by the end of the year for its PA11, PA11 Black CF, PA11 rCT, and PA11 ESD filaments.

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