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UL issues certification guideline for safety-critical 3D printed polymers

Safety science certification company UL has published an independent research study about the effects of 3D printing on safety-critical polymer performance properties. The research findings from the study have enabled the standards group to develop a framework for evaluating and qualifying materials, which will help additive manufacturing businesses from across the supply chain to more reliably deliver quality and performance parts.

As part of the study, UL compared sample parts that were 3D printed or injection molded. Both types of parts were tested to determine flammability, ignition and electrical properties. The idea was to determine whether the same polymer material produced using two different manufacturing methods would have a variable set of performance properties.

UL certification guideline safety-critical

The results from the tests ultimately showed that there were significant safety and performance variations between the two sample groups, which led to the conclusion that performance ratings set for traditional manufacturing processes could not be applied to 3D printing, even if she same type of material was used.

UL has therefore put together a certification program for plastics intended for 3D printing, and specifically extrusion-based 3D printing. The certification program comes in the form of a Blue Card, which provides the necessary data to ensure the integrity and performance of 3D printing materials. A Blue Card is only issued once a 3D printing material has received a UL Recognized Component Mark. Notably, Blue Cards will be issued for a specific 3D printer, allowing 3D printer manufacturers to certify materials for its machines.

“Results of the investigation provide the preliminary knowledge necessary to develop guidelines for certifying polymer materials intended for 3D printing and guidance for drafting requirements,” says the global safety certification company. “For the first time, we are able to address the gap in performance between 3D printed parts and conventional injection molded and extruded parts.”

A full list of UL Certified AM materials can be found in the company’s Product iQ database. The certification group says that end-product manufacturers can save resources and valuable time by opting to work with and 3D print an already qualified material. The full research study about safety-critical properties by UL can be found here.

In other news from UL, last week it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ASTM International with the aim of building a framework for developing an international, dual-logo ISO and ASTM standard for AM.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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