What is the Future of 3D Printing Materials?
Additive Manufacturing, AM, technologies have advanced significantly in recent years and are transforming the way manufacturers operate. AM, commonly known as 3D printing, is one of the fastest growing industries in the US today and these conditions are ripe for innovation, especially when it comes to printing materials!
As the famous quote says “necessity is the mother of invention” and this is true of 3D printing materials! The growth in additive manufacturing in recent years has spurred significant growth and innovation in 3D printing materials as challenges arise that require a solution in the form of a new or upgraded material. 3D printers can currently produce parts from numerous different materials including metals, plastics, ceramics, glass, and rubber – but there is significant research and development underway that will undoubtedly yield even more creative and application-specific materials. Each industry is diverse and requires customized solutions. As the range of material properties expands, this will allow additive manufacturing to broaden its reach and provide even higher value to manufacturers.
Below are some of the expected trends for 3D printing materials. Since the additive manufacturing industry is rapidly expanding, it is important to partner with a 3D printing service provider, like Re3dTech, that is committed to utilizing the latest materials technologies. Manufacturers turn to Re3dTech because we combine additive manufacturing expertise with cutting-edge equipment and materials. We are well positioned to partner with manufacturers to take advantage of the growth potential within the 3D printing industry in 2020 and beyond.
- Composites are a big area for potential development and are often used as a replacement for metal in various applications such as jigs, fixtures, grippers, soft jaws, and other tooling. Composites are usually made of a base polymer and a reinforcing material such as carbon fiber or fiberglass. The benefits of composites include higher strength, stiffness, and impact resistance compared to metals. One relatively recent composite is Markforged Onyx FR, that is offered by Re3dTech. This composite is a flame retardant version of Onyx which makes it an ideal choice for aerospace, automotive, and defense applications.
- Another area of innovation is conductive 3D printing materials. Companies are experimenting with graphene, a form of carbon that conducts electricity. Conductive material opens up a vast new area of 3D printing opportunities including touch sensors for gaming and other devices.
- One focus area for research and development is 3D printing material that is compatible with the human body. Several universities are studying new types of materials that can be implanted in the patient as well as materials for use during medical procedures. One example is 3D printed antimicrobial surgical forceps that are made of biodegradable cellulose, which is proving to be a robust and versatile material.
- 3D printing materials of the future may also include embedded post-processing capabilities. The idea is that certain properties would be triggered within the material, post production, by environmental conditions such as temperature or moisture. Researchers are considering applications such as shoes that modify their grip based on surface texture or pipes that initiate self-repair once a leak is detected. This may seem far-fetched but it shows just how broad developers are thinking when it comes to 3D printing materials of the future!
Re3dTech’s 3D Printing Materials
At Re3dTech, we specialize in the world’s most advanced 3D printing materials. We have experience and expertise in a wide range of materials including Markforged metals and composites. We offer HP plastics including HP PA12 known for its high-density parts and chemical resistance, HP PA12 GB known for its optimal mechanical properties and stiffness, HP Polyether Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) known for flexibility and shock absorption, and HP full color PA12 known for producing strong, complex parts. Re3dTech also has experience with a range of composites such as Markforged Onyx and Onyx FR as well as the following reinforcing fibers:
- Carbon fiber: the strongest and stiffest fiber option on the market. 25x stronger than ABS and a higher strength to weight ratio compared to Aluminum makes this the ideal candidate to print parts that replace the need for metal.
- KEVLAR: 8x more impact resistant than ABS while still retaining incredible tensile strength. Kevlar allows users to develop unique parts with varying properties all within the same part.
- HSHT fiberglass: the most well-rounded fiber that encompasses great flexural strength, tensile strength, impact resistance, and heat deflection temp all in one. This fiber is designed to handle the most extreme conditions where all other materials fail.
- Fiberglass: the best choice for a cost-effective part that is still 11x stronger than ABS. This is the go-to fiber for many first time users of Markforged parts.
We believe that 3D printing will repatriate and revitalize our manufacturing industry – and is the future of American manufacturing! RE3DTECH provides 3D printing and contract manufacturing services with a commitment to quality, speed, and customer service. We supply thousands of parts to customers every week in industries including Healthcare, Automotive, and Aerospace. It is our mission to provide a custom solution to our customers’ needs.
Leveraging our production additive manufacturing technologies, we have the in-house expertise and capabilities to help lead your company down the path of additive. Take advantage of the advances in 3D printing to improve your manufacturing – contact us today to see how we can help!