Defined: Desktop Steel’s FreeFoam 3D printing and DuraChain resins



Within the nook of a mammoth sales space at RAPID + TCT, amid shows of over 300 3D printed elements from metallic jewelry to lighting fixtures constructed from recycled wooden, Desktop Steel quietly launched FreeFoam, a brand new 3D printing know-how that allows the manufacturing of expandable foam merchandise.

This newest materials improvement is the product of the corporate’s just lately launched DuraChain household of photopolymers, developed by Adaptive 3D, which was introduced into the Desktop Steel household throughout a succession of main acquisitions all through final 12 months. These resins are stated to offer ‘breakthrough elastic and hard materials properties’ for digital mild processing (DLP) printing, particularly ETEC’s Xtreme 8K machine, and open up new additive manufacturing (AM) functions in industries comparable to automotive and client items.

On the present ground in Detroit, TCT spoke to Walter Voit, President and CEO of Adaptive 3D to seek out out extra.

LG: Discuss to me about FreeFoam.

WV: FreeFoam is a brand new class of supplies that’s a part of our DuraChain household of resins. It represents a category of printable photopolymers which have properties that the world hasn’t seen earlier than. What drives them is a way that we pioneered with a whole lot of DARPA funding again within the early days, and this was nonetheless in academia, referred to as Picture PIPS, which stands for Picture Polymerization-Induced Part Separation.

In most printable resins you print aside, it hardens, and it has a sure set of properties. To provide it extra properties, it’s important to put it in an oven and do different issues to it. On this Picture PIPS course of, because the resin is curing, it drives a change in miscibility in a number of the cured elements and the uncured elements. It drives a power that has this homogenous materials, that is type of in a single section, begin to separate in two phases. And so we get the ensuing properties that appear like a thermoplastic polyurethane or a thermoplastic elastomer however we get that out of a one half materials that may all activate throughout printing. These two phases in these DuraChain resins separate to -70°C after which up above 100°C and we get very good elastomeric efficiency throughout an nearly 200°C temperature vary. That lets us resolve a whole lot of fascinating issues as an business that have not been solved by conventional elastomers, not to mention printed elements.

LG: So what had been a few of these issues that you just had been seeing within the business?

WV: One of many automotive specs that is wanted is survivability. In Alaska or Fargo, the temperatures can get right down to adverse 40°C and so a whole lot of automotive elements will get unbridled at that temperature, they will squeak, they will make noise, they will fail unexpectedly. Having our low Tg section right down to -70 provides us a very nice buffer for extremely good elastomeric efficiency at low temperatures. Furthermore, having this excessive Tg section up at 120 to 125°C provides us thermal stability to fulfill a lot of the functions in vehicles, oil wells and planes, client merchandise and medical units. There’s some particular underneath the hood functions and a few house functions the place we’d like even larger temperatures and we’re not fairly there but. 

FreeFoam is type of the subsequent evolution of those DuraChain resins and never solely can we get all of the properties of those section separated supplies, however we will print them small, after which in a 60 second course of in an oven, we will volumetrically develop them 2x to 7x. These all are engaged on the Xtreme 8K which is the world’s largest prime down DLP printer by ETEC and what’s actually neat is the ETEC printer used to price us, as an example 30 cents on the greenback for an element. so that you have a look at the price of the 8K, you have a look at the scale of elements you need to make. As an instance we’re making automotive seat cushions. We have a look at the variety of elements you may make per 12 months, and then you definitely depreciate that over 5 years or three years or seven years, relying on what sort of enterprise you’re. There’s been a value per half that is related to a device and in a lot of the 3D business, that price per half primarily based on the device ranges from 30% perhaps as much as 70%. If we have a look at injection moulding, blow moulding, a number of the world’s nice thermoplastic processing applied sciences, the price per half that comes from the device is pennies on the greenback, perhaps two to fifteen cents, or 15%. What FreeFoam permits us to do is get into these margin regimes, the place we will affordably make elements that earlier than had been solely restricted to injection moulding and we will print small elements in our dearer device, after which quickly thermally course of them and in a reasonable oven to get these properties

LG: And from what I can see, you’ll be able to actually pack them in, and these are some very giant last elements … 

WV: Completely. It provides us this skill to do extremely excessive throughput of printing small elements. However then furthermore, for delivery, as an example we’re making automotive seat cushions over in Asia, and we need to ship them right down to Mexico for meeting, you may pay loads per house in a container, much more per quantity than per weight. It is simply how the worldwide delivery business works. We are able to take a few of these FreeFoam specimens, even earlier than foaming, we will warmth them up and compress them and retailer them in a short lived form. So we might be delivery one thing the scale of a faculty textbook, and it might undergo an oven and blow up into one thing the scale of a king measurement mattress. So if we have a look at gummed up provide chains, ships being caught in harbours not delivering items, the flexibility to ship a larger quantity of products extra successfully, after which do level of use foaming, as a result of that is a quite simple course of, there isn’t any chemical substances, it is mainly operating it by means of a pizza oven.

LG: You’ve got spoken in regards to the automotive seat instance and I can see some software examples right here in footwear. Are you able to share another software areas these DuraChain resins match into?

WV: The DuraChain supplies broadly handle issues in a number of totally different market segments, transportation and automotive, client merchandise, heavy business, after which a number of others. For footwear and for wearables, Elastic Robust Tubber (ETR) 90, which is a part of the DuraChain household, has handed the specs for biocompatibility.

We work with prospects and do a whole lot of software particular testing. So whereas a whole lot of the 3D printing world will check the quasi static properties of supplies – so that you compress them as soon as and see after they break or pull them as soon as and see after they break – We beat up these elastomers over a whole bunch of 1000’s of cycles after which research creep, fatigue, put on, compression, fixity, after which engineer the elements topic to the

load tensors that our companions want in order that we will use mass in essentially the most environment friendly methods.  Plenty of 3D printing makes use of easy tessellated lattices, you are taking a Physique-Centred Cubic (BCC) construction, and then you definitely tessellate that throughout your half, and it is fairly good, and it is fairly sturdy. But it surely’s fairly good and powerful towards forces in all instructions – most finish merchandise are utilized in a really particular approach. An automotive seat, if you concentrate on the way you get in a automotive, that outer lip takes a whole lot of power as a result of while you get in a automotive, you sit down on it, you twist the ft round and in order that outer lip wants to actually be strengthened. But when the opposite a part of the froth needed to be hardened towards the identical forces, you would be losing a whole lot of mass. And so we’re capable of work with with a number of the world’s best corporations that know precisely how customers interact with our merchandise and we may help them construct their merchandise topic to these wants, that makes use of a lot much less materials than standard applied sciences. That results in a decrease price of products, that results in a greener cleaner, extra sustainable ecosystem and finally higher margins for us. We are able to promote much less materials to unravel a larger drawback, and there is margin inside the entire provide chain. The entire service suppliers that make that occur can profit. 

LG: Adaptive3D is now a part of Desktop Steel. How is that serving to to speed up this know-how?

WV: DM has been an unimaginable match, there’s a fantastic cultural match. They spun out of the fabric science division at MIT, we got here out of the fabric science division at UT Dallas after which I had my PhD from Georgia Tech the place the corporate truly began. However we’ve got this type of materials centric view of the world, that you need to use science to give you a greater resolution. And I believe there are a whole lot of corporations that must earn a living and must earn a living instantly and as we speak, and are taking the perfect they’ll and actually pushing onerous the advertising and the prototyping. I believe the place DM has actually constructed a tradition and a staff that’s world’s finest is by going and figuring out the marquee applied sciences that result in space huge manufacturing, that can dominate by the top of the last decade. We have had a really affected person investor base, and a really nice group of technologists which might be serving to make these applied sciences a actuality so whereas we do loads as we speak to service prototyping and small scale processing, we’ve got our eyes on the prize of essentially remodeling how the world delivers items and providers to prospects and a whole lot of what we’re investing in doing is getting us nearer to that by leaps and bounds each quarter. So it is actually thrilling to be part of that ecosystem as an entrepreneur.

LG: This final query is a bit buzzwordy however the way in which you communicate in regards to the transformative means of FreeFoam, it is just like how I’ve heard different individuals outline ‘4D printing’. Would you ever use that terminology for this?

WV: I’ll defer that to our advertising staff! However I’ll depart you with a quote from a great pal from an enormous shoe firm who will stay unnamed however they do not prefer to say elements are 3D printed. They need to have a product that delivers superior efficiency to athletes and so they model it with the perfect athletes on this planet, and are nearly agnostic to that know-how. In some sense, there may be a whole lot of buzz and hype using behind 3D printing however our purpose is to actually ship worth to our finish prospects by fixing onerous issues in additional elegant technical methods. And FreeFoam does that within the scalable polymer chemistry route, loads just like the P50 does on excessive throughput metallic printing, and Forust does that in wooden printing, and the S Max Flex does that in huge sand casting. So in every of these circumstances, we discovered the important thing issues available in the market which have restricted know-how from attaining mass adoption, and spent some huge cash and a whole lot of time and a whole lot of PhDs, beating their heads towards partitions, arising with a method to resolve that. So it is actually thrilling to be part of that course of and that journey.


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