3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) announced a partnership with EMS-GRILTECH (SIX: EMSN) to develop new 3D printing materials. Leveraging the polyamide manufacturing expertise of EMG-GRILTECH, a business unit of Swiss chemical company EMS Group, the duo launched a new nylon copolymer dubbed DuraForm PAx Natural for use in selective laser sintering ( SLS).
3D Systems is the exclusive distributor of the powder, which can be used on any SLS machine. DuraForm PAx Natural is intended to demonstrate properties similar to injection molding, with high impact strength and elongation at break in all directions. Because it can be printed at low temperatures of 120°C, it is described as more efficient for printing and post-processing. In turn, it allows for high throughput and can be shipped the next day after printing, compared to the PA12, which can take two days.
Partners claim that it remains stable in terms of mechanical properties and color for more than five years indoors. Steam straightening also increases yield elongation over that of PA-11 and PA-12. Suggested applications include “braces, tool grips, splints and splints, ducts in harsh environments, live hinges, fluid reservoirs, and enclosures requiring high impact and high toughness.”
“We are very pleased to be able to collaborate with EMS-GRILTECH in a way that not only allows us to advance our innovation roadmap, but also advances the performance of materials for the industry,” said the Dr. Edwin Hortelano, Senior Vice President, Materials Engineering. & development, 3D systems. “With DuraForm PAx Natural, we are not only delivering a superior product with advanced mechanical properties, we are also delivering a new material for use with any SLS printing technology, which we intend to expand to other powder bed fusion platforms. This is our first step in opening 3D Systems’ materials portfolio to the entire industry, allowing a wider range of manufacturers to realize the benefits of this unparalleled material. We look forward to introducing more materials based on PAx and others in the future. »
Simon Maier, Head of Sales and Marketing at EMS-GRILTECH, said: “The EMS Group is an established global leader in high performance polymers for injection molding and powder-based applications. EMS-GRILTECH has watched the powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing industry with keen interest over the past few years, realizing that the technology is limited by the performance of available materials. So, in collaboration with 3D Systems, we decided to use our expertise to develop materials that exhibit excellent performance in PBF systems and at the same time exhibit technical properties that match those of injection molding. EMS-GRILTECH is excited about the capabilities of DuraForm PAx Natural and we look forward to creating added value for the additive manufacturing industry with more new material releases in the future.
The quotes above suggest that 3D Systems could begin to distribute the material for such powder bed fusion (PBF) processes such as HP’s multi-jet fusion and/or Stratasys’ selective absorption fusion. Additionally, EMS-GRILTECH intends to expand its presence in the additive industry.
For its part, EMS Group is a company of approximately $7.71 billion in terms of revenue, with a workforce of approximately 2,500 people. It is represented in 22 countries, with materials manufactured at 26 production sites in 16 countries. It is mainly owned by the Swiss billionaire Blocher family, and patriarch Christoph Blocher sold his shares in the company to his children in order to join the Swiss Federal Council. There he would become controversial for his right-wing stances on immigration, among other topics.
Previously, EMS Group mainly targeted the German market, followed by China and the United States. Its partnership with 3D Systems suggests it could expand its reach into North America. So far, he’s already found a client in Illinois-based 3D printing service CIDEAS, Inc., known for its work in the motorsports industry. CIDEAS President Mike Littrell had this to say about the hardware:
“DuraForm PAx Natural fundamentally disrupts the cost structure of SLS technology and allows us to cost-effectively produce parts that were previously difficult to justify using powder material. This innovative material offers similar mechanical properties to polypropylene, high elongation, high impact and high recycling rate. We have a customer who frequently orders large, unique one-off parts that were not perfectly suited for a powder process. DuraForm PAx Natural is the perfect material to use for this type of application and build size while still being able to produce a beautifully finished product.
It is well known that PBF is severely limited in terms of available materials. Now Jabil players in Braskem are hoping to expand the powder portfolio from a variety of nylons to include other options.
Images courtesy of 3D Systems.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Stay up to date on all the latest 3D printing industry news and receive information and offers from third-party vendors.