Compressing the product development cycle is a primary goal of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. Increasingly, designers who use AM processes are looking for ways to skip steps and build prototypes faster. Achieving this goal, however, will require new materials.
Israel-based Stratasys has unveiled two new printing materials that may fit the bill. The first, FDM Nylon 12CF, is a carbon fiber-filled thermoplastic created for higher strength and stiffness requirements than other plastics and, as a result, it’s strong enough to replace metal components in a range of applications where a combination of stiffness, strength and low weight are important to performance. These applications may include drill guides, end-of-arm tooling, brackets, jigs, fixtures and even metal forming tools: products that were infeasible for 3D printing in the past.
|FDM Nylon 12CF (left) is a strong, carbon-fiber reinforced thermoplastic, and Agilus30 (right) is a line of durable, flexible, and tear-resistant materials for PolyJet 3D printing.|
FDM Nylon 12CF overcomes some design restrictions usually encountered when prototyping using composites or metal. Designers are able to go directly from the design on the screen to a fully functional carbon-filled prototype in-house. Users can rapidly produce strong, light-weight and rigid components for functional prototyping, which greatly reduces new product time-to-market.
Nylon 12CF has been used to replace metal support fixtures where the stiffness/strength meets the requirement, but there is also a gain in ergonomics due to the lighter material, according to Stratasys FDM Product Manager, Chris Rollag. The stiffness-to-weight ratio is taking advantage of the weight savings of a polymer compared to the higher density of metal parts.
“Nylon 12 CF has also been used for prototyping parts that will eventually be made from metal, because the Nylon 12CF provides a functionality closer to that of the end-part that previously available plastic materials,” Rollag told Design News.
Nylon 12CF contains 35 percent chopped carbon fiber, which increases the tensile strength five times over that of unfilled Nylon 12 and twice the flexural strength of unfilled Nylon 12. Dissolvable support material is another feature of Nylon 12CF, eliminating the time-consuming process of manual support removal.
Beta customers (the material will be available this quarter) have reported that they are able to print using 12CF faster and make significant cuts to product development times, prototyping parts that formerly took two months in under two weeks. Designers can quickly create parts that are close to the strength of metal parts or glass-filled Nylon 6/6, and will be of particular value to design engineers making low-volume production parts with unique structural requirements, where high strength in one direction is required.
“FDM is printed layer over layer, the carbon fiber in the filament aligns with the XY layer as it is printed,” Rollag told Design News. “The strength in the Z or layer to layer bonding is limited to the strength of unfilled Nylon 12 as it does not get good cross layer of the carbon fibers. This is why the XY strength is much stronger than the strength in the Z build direction.”
The FDM Nylon 12CF material is designed for Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer and is compatible with soluble support SR-11-. It can produce parts in a layer thickness of 0.010 inches (0.254 mm).
Concurrent with the introduction of Nylon12CF, Stratasys is also debuting a new photopolymer material for its PolyJet 3D printing process. Agilus30 is a new line of rubber-like high-durability flexible materials that can withstand repeated flexing without tearing or deforming. Agilus30’s ability to flex will allow it to replace existing soft elastomers such as Shore scale A 30.
The material, which is available in black or translucent, is expected to enable greater freedom to handle and test flexible parts and prototypes while delivering a high level of accuracy, fine details and enhanced product realism, and for modeling delicate parts that undergo repeated flexing and bending. Examples of applications that will benefit from Agilus30 include over-molding, soft-touch and living hinges, hoses, seals and gaskets, as well as knobs, grips, pulls, and handles.
Zehavit Reisen, Stratasys VP and head of the company’s Rapid Prototyping Strategic Business Unit and Materials, told Design News that in conjunction with Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D printing technology, the new material offers fine details and accuracy not normally available with flexible materials.
“Agilus 30 gives designers the ability to verify and optimize the design of an end-use part made of rubber by using a durable, flexible and high tear-resistance material,” he said. “The main properties required for design optimization and verification are met with this material.”
Agilus30, like Nylon 12CF, also features compatibility with soluble support of overhanging features that require a base to build upon, which saves significant time, cost and labor.
“Agilus30 works with our SUP706 soluble support material, which gets removed when it’s dissolved in a water-based solution for hands-free support removal,” Reisen told Design News.
3D Printing Innovation Summit. Looking to advance your design development and process improvement through next-gen tool and applications? The two-day 3D Printing Innovation Summit, June 13-14, in NYC, takes you in-depth on this evolving technology and its applications in manufacturing and engineering. Through a variety of presentations, panels, and case studies, you'll hear from experts leading the charge as they discuss topics including the latest tips on cost efficiency, choosing new materials, lightweighting, next-gen tools and applications, and big area additive manufacturing (BAAM). Register Today! To learn more about Stratasys, visit them on the Expo floor - booth # 602.