Cubicure, an Austrian supplier of industrial polymers for additive manufacturing, has announced a strategic R&D partnership with specialty chemicals company Evonik through which they will develop and bring to market highly viscous polyester resins for Cubicure’s Hot Lithography (HL) technology.
Together, the companies aim to offer a 1K-resin system for the Hot Lithography additive manufacturing platform. The HL process was developed by Cubicure in order to overcome existing challenges with conventional SLA systems. Specifically, Cubicure wanted a way to print its high-performance photopolymers, which could not be processed using commercial SLA systems because of their highly viscous and sticky nature.
The HL process itself is essentially a heated SLA process which unlocks the use of high molecular and thus highly viscous resin materials. This, in turn, has created new opportunities for printable materials and even for new material system concepts.
As a leader in AM plastics, Evonik was interested in Cubicure’s HL technology and wanted to use it as a development platform for light-curing polyester resins.
As Professor Stefan Buchholx, Executive Director of Evonik Creavis GmbH, commented: “The Hot Lithography technology developed by Cubicure is an interesting option for manufacturing components that meet the exacting standards of industrial applications. We have been using this platform for the development of next-generation light-curing resin systems for awhile. For this purpose, we rely on internally supplied, custom-made components such as oligomers, specialty monomers and suitable additives.”
The partners will be unveiling the first fruits of their partnership at the upcoming Formnext trade show in Frankfurt. Visitors at the event will be able to see the first polyester material for the Hot Lithography process on display.
A 1K system for Cubicure
Evonik and Cubicure have leveraged their extensive expertise in materials to pioneer a one-component resin system (1K) for the Hot Lithography process. As opposed to 2K systems, the 1K system does not require a mixing procedure before use and can simply be applied directly to the 3D printer. Aside from speeding up the printing-prep process, a 1K approach also ensures a more continuous, uninterrupted and safe additive manufacturing process.
“The joint strategic development project with Evonik is already in an advanced state,” said Robert Gmeiner, CEO and Co-Founder of Cubicure. “We are pleased to expand our material portfolio by flexible photopolymers in the future. A 1K system based on polyesters is an important building block on our way to stable and scalable additive production processes.”
The polyester resins co-developed by Cubicure and Evonik will enable the production of flexible, elastomer-like components. Cubicure says its upcoming resin will be ideal for such applications as printing sealings, grommets, bellows, shock absorbers, protective covers, shoe soles, protectors, handles and more.