3D Engineering Material Enables Thermal Functional Testing

By: 
December 09, 2011

Objet has introduced a high-temperature engineering material for the thermal functional testing of 3D printed parts and prototypes. The material, RGD525, simulates the high thermal performance of engineering plastics while maintaining dimensional stability.

The material's heat deflection temperature is 145F to 153F after printing and 167F to 176F after thermal treatment in a programmable oven. Zehavit Reisin, head of Objet's consumables line of business, said in an interview that her firm has designed RGD525 for fit and form, as well as for thermal functional testing of static 3D models and prototypes such as automotive air vent ribs and hot air intakes. The material can also be used to simulate high-temperature engineering plastics used for hot air flow or hot water flow in taps and faucets, or for high-definition parts that must possess excellent surface quality. (You can access a video about the material here.)

Though fit and form applications require materials with dimensional stability and accurate visualization, engineering and high-temperature materials must make it possible to simulate the final product functionally, not merely replicate it, Reisin said:

In function applications, Objet's strategy has been first to enhance our capabilities in the rapid prototyping side. Correct fit and form are required for making models. But we've also wanted to get into function applications by introducing new materials that approach engineering plastics. These materials must possess both high temperature resistance and high toughness. In functional product design testing, the prototypes must function like the final product, as well as look and feel like it.

This year, Objet introduced the company's first material that simulates engineering plastics, the ABS-like RGD5160-DM. This material combines toughness with a heat deflection temperature of 136F to 154F after printing and 179F to 203F after thermal treatment. Its impact resistance is 1.22 to 1.5 footpounds per inch. RGD5160-DM can be used for electrical parts, mobile phone casings, engine parts and covers, and snap-fit parts designated for high- or low-temperature applications. For example, it was recently used to create a dashboard prototype for the European StreetScooter. The dashboard consists of more than 20 different 3D printed parts.

The RGD525 material can be used with Objet's Connex500 and Eden500V 3D printers. The company plans to make it available on additional platforms in 2012, according to a press release. "The models created in this material are more resilient in diverse environmental conditions, whether in transit or under strong exhibition lighting," Reisin said in the release.

Using the Connex multimaterial 3D printer, RGD525 can be printed simultaneously with any of the Objet Tango family of rubber-like materials. This makes it possible to simulate overmolded parts such as air flow vents used in automotive and defense applications.

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