Solvay and Aerosint to further research on 3D Printing specialty polymers
SLS 3D Printing is widely used with key powder fusion technologies. The technology still presents limitations when it comes to process high-performance polymers. Solvay and Aerosint have recently announced they will collaborate to push this area of the AM industry forward.
According to the specialty chemicals company, high-performance polymers such as KetaSpire® polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and Ryton® polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) can open up new possibilities for 3D printing. However further research should be carried on to develop their adoption by professionals of the SLS technology.
Aerosint’s technology seems ideal for such type of research. Indeed, in an Opinion of the Week, Edouard Moens, Managing Director of the company, explained us that “due to the fact that powders are created using a specific blade, [SLS/SLM technologies] only allow the creation of objects with the same material. Indeed, the blade can only be used to make layers that are single materials.” However, their technology is different to the extent that it enables the deposition of a powder system that can integrate different materials. These materials are therefore precisely deposited where needed in order to create multi-material layers.
“SLS machines that can process high-temperature-polymers are carefully designed and assembled with sophisticated and expensive components. However, at present, there is a significant operating cost disadvantage during the build, which is the excessive waste of up to 90 percent of ‘used-but-unfused’ powder,” said Edouard Moens, managing director Aerosint. “Our patented spatially-selective, multiple-powder deposition system under development incorporates a non-fusible support material in each layer where expensive high-performance polymers are not required, thereby reducing material waste to very low levels.”
“As with all innovative, ground-breaking technologies there are many challenges to overcome. One of them is to develop and fully optimize high-performance AM polymer powders for use at high temperatures alongside non-fusible materials in a multi-powder deposition process,” says Brian Alexander, Global Product and Application Manager for Additive Manufacturing at Solvay’s Specialty Polymers global business unit. “Not only will this technology make 3D printing of high-performance polymers more affordable, it also will open up its enormous potential to become a competitive industrial process for AM system manufacturers in the medical, aerospace and automotive sectors.”
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