Tessa’s Weekly Picks – 3D Printing with Specialty Materials


Tessa Blokland  

A 3D printed, sintered and polished part in Ultrafuse 316L from BASF

Continuing on my last week’s blog post, I got what I hoped for and indeed I did see some amazing specialty materials at Formnext, which took place this week in Frankfurt. For the designers who might read this blog post, what the Salone del Mobile is for design, Formnext is for industrial 3D printing. It seems that every company involved in industrial 3D printing (or additive manufacturing -AM) was attending, either presenting or visiting exploring the latest news. For me, with a 20+ year design background, it was amazing to see how complex, diverse and dispersed the AM world is. It also made me realize how important it is to have a solution like LEO Lane. It is like that children’s game where you whisper a word into the ear of the person next to you, and that person to the person next to him, and so on. You will be surprised that the original word has changed to another word entirely. Using software can help in avoiding misunderstandings and cultural differences. As I said, I did see some amazing specialty materials and it was great to hear from specialists for what these materials can be used for.

At the booth of Swedish company Sandvik I saw this diamond-shaped object, 3D printed in diamond composite. What I did not know is that 70% of the diamond industry is for industrial uses. Diamond is one of the world’s hardest materials, and is a key component in a large range of wear-resistant tools in industry, from mining and drilling to machining and also medical implants. With the invention of a diamond composite and a tailor-made, proprietary post-processing method, it is now possible to create any complex shape with this super hard material. Hopefully, the company will be able to show some case studies in the near future.

BASF presented an affordable, straightforward and safe filament, Ultrafuse® 316L. It is specially designed for easy handling of conventional Fused Filament Fabrication 3D printers. This material is suitable for 3D printing tooling, jigs and fixtures, series production and functional parts in metal. The 3D printed parts will acquire their final properties (see top image), for example in terms of hardness and strength, through a debinding and sintering process also developed by BASF. The white material in the photo is 3D printed ceramics and is used as a support material. Because ceramics needs a higher firing temperature, it is the ideal material to combine with metal.

The third material that blew my mind was from Clariant. I was initially attracted to the color, but the material properties are equally interesting. The door handle and frame on the photo are 3D printed with PA6-CG20, a Clariant material with excellent flame retardancy, low smoke, and low toxicity properties. The parts also show that a high aesthetic is maintained as well.

The last material that attracted my attention was from 3D printer and filament manufacturer Essentium. With the release of a new 3D printer the company also presented a range of new high-temperature (HT) 3D printing materials. The example below is a PCB fixture for the assembly of a push-button OLED interface screen. The 3D printed black fixture is printed in HTN-CF25, meaning High-Temperature Nylon with a 25% Carbon Fiber reinforced core.

LEO Lane_Weekly Pick_3D Printing Specialty Materials

Each of Tessa’s weekly picks is a curated group of 3D printed designs, based on the week’s chosen theme. If you would like to offer a theme for Tessa, or if you have your own 3D printed weekly picks you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest weekly picks every week in your mailbox.

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