ELIX Polymers is developing additional specialty grades of ABS optimized for 3D printing, in the wake of high interest shown in its initial offering at K 2016 in Düsseldorf last October.
“We got an improved idea of the high potential growth rates of the 3D printing market during the show,” Fabian Herter, Industry Manager Automotive, says. “We think ELIX can be an important player in this exciting market. 3D printing fits well with our strategy of focusing in specialty businesses with tailor-made products and services.”
ELIX is the right partner for companies involved in 3D printing, thanks to its flexibility in production and the huge bank of polymer knowledge it has acquired over the last 40 years, Fabian Herter says. He also notes that 3D printing applications are in line with the ELIX strategy of developing a more sustainable portfolio. “3D printing technology can cut costs and time in development, a more efficient use of materials is possible, and final products can be customized to make them fitter for purpose,” he says.
ELIX will offer 3D printing grades that have been optimized after detailed analysis of specific customer needs. Some new grades have already been validated at filament producers, 3D printer makers and final part manufacturers who use Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), more commonly known as FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling). This technology has a broad scope of applications, in sectors such as automotive, healthcare, aerospace, E&E, consumer products, and toys.
So far, ELIX has optimized five ABS grades for 3D printing, each of them fulfilling different customer requirements. All exhibit improved printing performance, low warpage, dimensional precision and high resolution. The portfolio includes a general purpose grade (ELIX ABS-3D GP), a grade that fulfill food contact materials regulation no. 10/2011 and biocompatibility standards (ISO 10993-1 and USP class VI) for food contact and medical applications (ELIX ABS-3D FC), a high impact grade (ELIX ABS-3D HI), a grade with improved interlayer adhesion for complex parts (ELIX ABS-3D LA), and an ABS reinforced with natural fibers that produces a wood-like appearance when used on special 3D printers (ELIX ABS-3D NF). All grades are available in natural or precolored in various shades.
ELIX intends to supervise the complete 3D printing value chain. To this end, it is already cooperating with several leading printer producers and 3D software providers. “The scope is not only to develop new formulations, but also to identify the right partners and create a database with validated filament producers,” Antonio Prunera, Head of Quality Business Development says.
ELIX is offering technical support, including recommendations on correct processing set-ups: extruder screw design, drive system and spool system. The objective is to obtain the filament with the best quality properties in typical thicknesses of 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm and validate the material to meet the requirements of the final application. ELIX has defined its own demanding material tests to evaluate the final filament quality.