3D Engineering Material Enables Thermal Functional Testing
Objet's high-temperature RGD525 targets thermal functional testing of models and prototypes, such as this automotive air conditioning vent printed on Connex500 and Eden500V 3D printers.
Photo courtesy of Objet
There's been a lot of activity in the 3D market this year and a lot of excitement. Much of the focus has been on the cost of 3D printers coming down to a price point that makes them more accessible to smaller shops and even for engineers looking to do design exploration at home. But in addition to this critical trend, it's equally important that the material choices evolve so the printers can serve more functional roles in prototyping and manufacturing. This new offering seems like it opens the door to some pretty interesting new applications.
It's great to see a materials focus coming to 3D printing, so that it becomes viable for more than just prototype, but for serious, low-volume production runs as well. The ability to conduct thermal and stress tests on printed prototypes is a crucial part of the design and validation process, so again this is a welcome development.
Beth, you're right, a lot of this year's new has been about lower-priced and more affordable 3 D printers. And yes, there have also been some pretty exciting developments in high-end engineering materials, and now we're seeing very low volumes in additive manufacturing in some areas, such as aerospace "bridge" parts. For example, we covered some of these in Materials Broaden Reach in Additive Manufacturing:
Whenever a heat deflection temperature number is given, it's important to give the corresponding load. Are these heat deflection temperatures at 66 psi, or at 264 psi?
A heat deflection temperature of 167 - 176°F at 66 psi would be comparable to an unfilled polypropylene or HDPE. A heat deflection temperature 167 - 176°F at 264 psi would be comparable to PET or PBT.
Either way, these numbers are quite low compared to engineering plastics such as nylon, polycarbonate, or polyacetal -- let alone high temperature plastics such as PTFE, PEEK, or PPS. Still, everything is relative. For 3D printing materials, these numbers may indeed be high.
Also, it's interesting that RGD525, with a heat deflection temperature of 167 - 176°F, is being marketed as the "high temperature" option, when the heat deflection temperature of RGD5160-DM (marketed as the "ABS-like" option) is given as 179 - 203°F. Just looking at the numbers, it would seem that RGD5160-DM would be a better choice for "high temperature" applications.
Dave makes a really good point, and this relates to one of my pet peeves, which is that anything which begs a comparison should do so. (I.e,, you can't say "50% faster," it's gotta be 50% faster than X.). Anyway, so the question here becomes what is the sweet spot for highER temp 3D materials...what markets specifically are these aimed at.
Alex, I share your distaste for relative statements made with no reference point. These materials are aimed at vents that must channel both hot air and cold air flow, such as for automotive or other HVAC systems, and pipes carrying hot water.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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