3D Printing ProcessesPhotopolymer Resins

DuraChain photopolymers launched by Desktop Metal

A first-of-its-kind commercial category of photopolymers that uses Photo PIPS

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Desktop Metal has launched its DuraChain photopolymers – a first-of-its-kind commercial category of photopolymers that uses a material chemistry process known as Photo Polymerization-induced Phase Separation, or Photo PIPS, to deliver breakthrough material properties.

Parts that are currently produced with standard acrylate-based resins used in DLP 3D printing are prone to shattering or fracturing upon impact. The 3D printing industry has been working to incrementally improve these material properties and deliver more durable and elastomeric properties.

DuraChain photopolymers solve this challenge with a breakthrough approach that leverages the Photo PIPs process to produce tough and resilient end-use parts while eliminating the need for a two-part resin. When illuminated during DLP printing, DuraChain materials phase separate into two parts at the nano level and then cure into a resilient, high-performing network that offers a variety of benefits. DuraChain was developed by Texas-based Adaptive3D, which was acquired by Desktop Metal in 2021.

DuraChain photopolymers launched by Desktop Metal. A first-of-its-kind commercial category of photopolymers that uses Photo PIPS.
Dustless Tools’ DustBuddie – made using ETR

Unlike two-part resins, DuraChain photopolymers demonstrate a long pot life of roughly one year (depending on environmental conditions), making them more suitable for volume production and reducing waste from spoiled, unused material.

“DuraChain photopolymers signal a new era in DLP printing that delivers material properties that compete with thermosets in a long pot-life material,” said Ric Fulop, Co-Founder, and CEO of Desktop Metal. “Parts printed with DuraChain resins are high performing in a wide range of temperatures and offer other important benefits that will quickly lead to new material innovations in DLP printing.”

Photopolymers that cure using the Photo PIPs process have been studied by researchers for years but have not been broadly commercialized – primarily because DLP 3D printing hardware has struggled to print the high viscosity resins required to make use of this process.

Most DLP systems feature a bottom-up printing process in which a projector is placed below the build area and illuminates each part layer through a transparent tray, while the part advances upward suspended to a build tray. Because Photo PIPS resins require more energy to cure and are relatively heavy compared to standard resins, they are challenging to suspend from a build plate during bottom-up DLP printing.

DuraChain photopolymers launched by Desktop Metal. A first-of-its-kind commercial category of photopolymers that uses Photo PIPS.
The ETEC Xtreme 8K printer

Desktop Metal’s recently-launched DuraChain materials will be printable on one of the additive manufacturing industry’s only top-down DLP systems, the ETEC Xtreme 8K.

Several DuraChain materials will be exclusively available on the ETEC Xtreme 8K including Elastic ToughRubber (ETR) 70 and 90, both of which are currently offered and which differ in Shore A durometer value. ETR 70 is available in Black while ETR 90 is available in both Black and Blanc, which produces white parts that can be dyed to any color for production.

ETR is already being used to 3D print end-use parts. For example, ETR is being used by Dustless Tools, a maker of construction and industrial vacuum systems, to produce its DustBuddie for demolition hammers, where the rugged application requires the material to have high energy return, tear strength, resilience, and other durability properties. As well as by Aerosport Additive – a premium service bureau serving the aviation, automotive, medical, electronic, and military industries (among others), for 3D printing prototypes and production parts.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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