Infinite Material Solutions LLC. (Infinite), an innovator in material design for additive manufacturing, has just launched a new material with fascinating potential. The product, called Caverna PP, is the world’s first extrusion thermoplastic with a water-soluble, co-continuous, microporous morphology. In simpler terms: It’s a 3D printing filament that allows users to create lightweight foam parts resembling a sponge.
Specifically designed for use in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) systems, Caverna PP is the first in Infinite’s line of forthcoming Caverna build materials. Each one will be a unique blend of two polymers: a soluble material to be removed through dissolution, and an insoluble build material (in this case, polypropylene) to remain. After dissolution, the water-soluble phase leaves behind a cave-like network of microporous, interconnected channels inside the build material, making it light, soft, and porous.
The company expects this new material to get additive manufacturers dreaming up new applications in fields such as filtration, separators, footwear, and personal protective equipment. One area of particular interest is the potential to create porous tooling for the production of vacuum-formed parts. Caverna PP’s co-continuous distribution of tiny pores (1–4µ) could allow for consistent airflow, eliminating the need to drill holes, and maximizing material distribution.
For Infinite’s Chief Operating Officer Larry Doerr, Caverna PP’s launch represents a company success, after bringing to market a high-temperature, water-soluble support material just last fall.
“With so many breakthroughs happening on a regular basis, additive manufacturing is an exciting space to participate in”, said Doerr. “I’m extremely proud of our team for once again creating a material that stands out and redefines what’s possible with FFF — and I’m excited to watch the industry take Caverna PP’s unique capabilities and run with them”.
Caverna PP joins two other novel materials in Infinite’s portfolio: AquaSys 120 and AquaSys 180 water-soluble support filaments. These materials pair with popular build materials, ranging from PLA to PEEK, to support complex designs, then dissolve quickly in tap water to leave behind a finished part. Infinite recommends pairing Caverna PP with AquaSys 120 for one-step dissolution. Users can simply print the part, leave it to dissolve, and come back to find a complete build with a microporous structure.