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From Polymers to Superalloys: 3D Printing Materials Unveiled at RAPID+TCT 2024

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At RAPID + TCT 2024 in Los Angeles, new materials for 3D printing are being unveiled, featuring exciting innovations in polymers and metals. Highlights include a nickel superalloy for extreme environments like space and deep-sea exploration, a nylon filament made from recycled powders, and a super strong and light polymer reinforced with carbon fiber for automotive and aerospace applications.

Polymers

The advancements in polymer materials at this year’s event are particularly noteworthy. The goal is to boost the practical applications and sustainability of 3D printing and provide users with more options.

This year, Axtra3D and Farsoon have introduced high-performance polymers designed for demanding applications. Axtra3D’s Loctite 3380 is a material that prevents static electricity buildup (ESD-resistant), which is crucial for electronic manufacturing and automotive parts, particularly components like electrical connectors and automotive under-the-hood parts. Paired with Axtra3D’s Lumia X1 printer, which uses Hybrid PhotoSynthesis (HPS) technology, Loctite 3380 parts will have high accuracy and smooth finishes. According to the North Carolina-based 3D printing manufacturer, this material provides a reliable alternative to traditional injection molding.

Parts produced with Axtra3D’s Loctite 3D IND3380 for the SLA Lumia X1. Image courtesy of Axtra3D.

Similarly, Farsoon claims its new carbon-fiber-reinforced PA6 material, FS6130CF-F, offers exceptional mechanical properties, including high tensile strength and heat resistance. Ideal for automotive and aerospace applications, the material’s low refreshment ratio means that less new material is needed during printing, which reduces waste and costs by allowing more used material to be recycled. FS6130CF-F is compatible with Farsoon’s “Flight” fiber laser powder bed fusion (PBF) technology. This material has been tested internally and is now available for commercial orders in the U.S. and European markets.

Parts produced with Farsoon’s FS6130CF-F polymer. Image courtesy of Farsoon.

Nexa3D and 3devo have also introduced materials focused on sustainability and cost-effectiveness. Nexa3D’s Xyon is a carbon-fiber-filled polymer filament designed to offer high performance at a lower cost. It is versatile and compatible with a wide range of 3D printers, a great fit for both desktop and industrial applications. Xyon is particularly suitable for prototyping, tooling, and end-use parts. The material has been extensively tested to ensure reliability and is now available for purchase.

Soft jaws manufactured with Nexa3D’s Xyon filament. Image courtesy of Business Wire.

Addressing the issue of selective laser sintering (SLS) powder waste, 3devo has introduced a nylon filament made from recycled SLS powder. This material reduces environmental impact and cuts costs for industries that depend on 3D printing. The recycling process transforms SLS powder waste into high-quality filament, keeping the integrity and performance of the original material. This filament can be used with standard filament-based 3D printers, making it accessible to many users.

3devo’s solution transforms discarded SLS powder into reusable filament. Image courtesy of 3devo.

Metals

Metal 3D printing is advancing rapidly, and RAPID is the perfect stage to showcase these innovations. From aluminum powders to nickel superalloys, the event is packed with announcements that promise to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing.

Equispheres, Alloyed, and Aubert & Duval have introduced high-performance metal powders compatible with laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology. Equispheres’ new aluminum powders can improve print speeds and mechanical properties, promising to reduce production costs by up to 80%. These powders are ideal for high-strength and precision applications like aerospace and automotive components.

In addition, Equispheres has joined the Additive Manufacturing Materials Consortium to, among other things, help accelerate the adoption of metal 3D printing. The brand has also teamed up with software specialist Dyndrite to improve its aluminum powders. The duo says they can ensure the materials work better for industrial LPBF applications by creating optimized printing parameters and providing detailed testing data. Visitors at RAPID can see parts printed with Dyndrite LPBF Pro, demonstrating enhanced productivity and surface quality. This collaboration aims to accelerate the adoption of metal AM in production environments, making high-quality aluminum parts more accessible than ever.

Meanwhile, material manufacturers Alloyed, based in the U.K., and France’s Aubert & Duval have teamed up to introduce ABD-1000AM, a nickel superalloy designed for extreme environments like space and deep-sea exploration. The alloy’s ability to withstand temperatures beyond 1000°C while maintaining superior mechanical properties sets it apart and makes it ideal for critical applications in aerospace, power, automotive, and defense applications. This material has been extensively tested and is now available for commercial orders.

Parts made with Alloyed and Aubert & Duval’s ABD-1000AM nickel superalloy. Image courtesy of Alloyed.

Another material introduced is SPEE3D’s NAB Expeditionary, a nickel aluminum bronze for Cold Spray Additive Manufacturing (CSAM) that allows users to produce parts quickly and on-site. This makes it a game-changer for industries facing supply chain challenges, such as maritime, defense, oil and gas, and mining. Described by SPEE3D as strong and corrosion resistant, NAB Expeditionary has already been field-tested, is available for immediate deployment, and can be found at RAPID, where it will be showcased with the brand’s WarpSPEE3D printer.

Parts made with SPEE3D’s NAB Expeditionary material. Image courtesy of SPEE3D.

Finally, Desktop Metal promises to push the boundaries of binder jetting with its new TurboFuse binder chemistry. This advanced binder (a liquid adhesive that helps bind the powder material during printing) eliminates a heating step during the printing process, significantly speeding up production. TurboFuse is a new formulation promising a faster and more efficient printing process. More precisely, Desktop Metal says it increases print speeds by 50% and boosts overall productivity.

Compatible with the X25Pro printer, TurboFuse can process a variety of metals, including 316L stainless steel. Beta testing by Eaton has shown a nearly fourfold reduction in print times, pointing to a potential for significant cost savings and more efficiency.

TurboFuse is now offered with the Desktop Metal X25Pro production metal binder jetting platform. Image courtesy of Business Wire.

RAPID proves to be once again a hotbed of announcements, showcasing the latest advancements in polymer and metal 3D printing materials as they make their way from the show floor to real-world applications. Whether it’s high-strength polymers or cutting-edge metal powders, 3D printing material innovations are keeping up with the industry’s demands.

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