SABIC develops New 3D Printing Material for Rail Industry

Chemicals company SABIC has announced the development of new additive manufacturing materials that comply with E.U. and U.S. rail fire safety standards.

Named LNP™ THERMOCOMP™ AM DC0041XA51 compound, the material is a carbon fiber-reinforced, flame-retardant (FR) compound well-suited for pellet-fed additive manufacturing (PFAM). Ideal for printing large or medium-size rail components, SABIC says it is one of the first PFAM-capable materials to comply with requirements of the European EN45545 standard (R1 Hazard Level 3) and the U.S. NFPA-130 standard for interior and exterior parts. The product has been certified compliant with both standards by an independent laboratory.

The development is the result of one observation: the team at SABIC realized that few thermoplastic compounds can simultaneously meet EN45545 and NFPA 130 standards and work successfully in pellet-fed additive manufacturing systems. High-temperature materials such as polyetheretherketone (PEEK) address stringent fire safety requirements but do not process as easily as the new carbon-filled compound using additive manufacturing.

Combining SABIC’s proprietary copolymer resin with additive and reinforcement technology, SABIC experts developed a solution that meets the challenging requirements of these standards, which place strict limits on smoke density and toxicity, heat release and flame spread.

The new material offers important performance advantages for printing large parts using PFAM. Firstly, LNP THERMOCOMP AM DC0041XA51 compound maintains its structural integrity during printing and delivers good dimensional stability with low warpage for the finished part. From a processing standpoint, LNP THERMOCOMP AM DC0041XA51 compound may eliminate the need for additional investment since the product facilitates high printing speeds at relatively moderate temperatures. Potential applications include exterior parts such as bumpers as well as interior cladding components such as side panels, partition walls and ducts, and seating backs and shells, a press release says.

Compared to thermosets formulated with halogen-based FR additives, SABIC’s new LNP THERMOCOMP AM DC0041XA51 compound provides expanded design flexibility, facilitates recycling and offers a non-halogenated FR solution.

With our increased focus on 3D printing, we were looking for a material that complies with the stringent safety requirements set forth in international standards like NFPA 130 or EN45545,” said Lucas Esteban, operational manager from Digital Manufacturing, CAF. “SABIC’s LNP THERMOCOMP AM DC0041XA51 compound has unique features that fit well with industry requirements, including the appropriate railway certificates. Its non-halogenated flame-retardant system addresses current sustainability trends, and its carbon fiber reinforcement and favorable processing allow us to make larger part geometries with sufficient stiffness and limited warpage. This breakthrough material is an ideal solution for CAF and the entire transportation industry.”

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