it is with the range of new polymers now available that offers the most exciting aspect of 3D printing technology development. We are now leaving behind the traditional ABS and PLA which we have become so used to, fond of and somewhat bored with. However, with innovative new materials this is all about to change.
New polymers, new challenges
In our lab at the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) we have started to trial these fascinating new polymers, testing them for durability, creep and extrudability. We have had success with mixing metal and ceramic particles into polymers which makes parts look and feel like real metal and ceramic parts respectively. The great thing is that these materials, even with fine particles mixed into them, are still easy to extrude using standard 3D printing extrusion technology.
A thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) going by the name of Ninjaflex is fascinating, allowing for rubberised components to be fabricated. Another is an electrically conductive and piezoresistive carbomorph going by the name of “conductive ABS”. By the end of the year we will see Tenax-based carbon fibre filaments becoming common and following on from this fibreglass materials becoming available in 2015. … (Read more)