VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland has worked in collaboration with Carbodeon Ltd Oy, an expert in high-performance nanodiamonds, to develop a polymer-based 3D printing material with improved mechanical durability. The new material, called uDiamond filament and patented by Carbodeon, combines nanodiamond particles into a polymer mix to achieve higher performing 3D printing plastic parts.
More than just quality, uDiamond reportedly also helps to speed up the 3D printing process, both on a consumer and industrial level. Improved speed and quality, the partners explain, are due to the nanodiamond particles embedded in the material, which effectively shape the structure and properties of the material. More specifically, the filament’s spherical nanodiamond particles act as a sort of lubricant in the filament, lessening the risk of nozzle clogging.
The nanodiamond particles also help to improve the thermal conductivity of the plastic material which increases the 3D printing speed. In tests conducted by Carbodeon, the material reportedly enabled print speed increases of up to 500 mm/s.
“This is the first product of a family that will be sold as a finished 3D filament and in a granular format, as well,” said Carbodeon CEO Vesa Myllymäki. “VTT has been a long-term, reliable partner in this development, and has reacted to our needs quickly.”
The uDiamond filament, a PLA-based material reinforced with nanodiamond particles, is currently available on the market and is suitable for industrial and consumer-grade FDM/FFF 3D printers.
A lot of work has gone into readying the 3D printer filament for the market, as VTT and Carbodeon worked closely to find a reliable method for evenly dispersing the nanodiamond particles in the PLA material. Ensuring an even distribution of the particles resulted in a material well suited for 3D printing. In the development process, VTT also tested the properties of the filament as well as parts 3D printed from it extensively.
“Using our chemical pilot devices, we at VTT produced the nanodispersed material required for the melt processing, and thus supported the creation of a new product,” explained Jarmo Ropponen, Research Team Leader at VTT’s chemical pilots.
“The melt processing of plastics became easier and the mechanical characteristics were improved with the introduction of nanodiamonds,” added Satu Pasanen, the research scientist at VTT in charge of the plastic piloting in the development. “Based on the preliminary tests, the modulus of the 3D printed test pieces was improved at best by more than 200% compared to the PLA-based filament already on the market. VTT´s Polymer Pilot produced the first 600 kg material batch, which Carbodeon had refined into a commercial product.”
Evidently, the new uDiamond filament offered by Carbodeon contains low concentrations of nano diamond particles, but even in these small amounts, the company says the material demonstrates better performance and properties. Cardodeon adds that its nanodiamond particles are non-toxic and are “suitable for a variety of applications according to REACH and EPA assessments.”
Presently, uDiamond filament is available for order on Carbodeon’s website for €35 per 500g spool. Further specifications for the filament can be found on the website as well. Earlier this year, Carbodeon and Dutch 3D printing specialist Tiamet 3D announced the first nanodiamond-enhanced filaments for 3D printing.