German RepRap and ebalta Kunststoff Present New PU Material for Liquid Additive Manufacturing

August 4, 2017

Feldkirchen near Munich, July 2017 – German RepRap, the leading German manufacturer of FFF 3D printers and ebalta Kunststoff GmbH, manufacturer of polyurethane and epoxy resins, present a new polyurethane (PU) based material that can be used in additive manufacturing. The customizable properties of the material offer the necessary flexibility to fulfill a broad range of requirements.

This PU plastic, developed in collaboration between both companies, is considered a revolutionary innovation in the additive manufacturing space. Once printed, the material has isotropic mechanical properties due to chemical crosslinking. This is clear step forward from existing technologies. For the first time anywhere, and with the help of a 3D printer, this material can be processed in its liquid state; this eliminates the melting process.

The new PU material was introduced in June of this year at PSE Europe 2017 in Munich, at the booth of ebalta Kunststoff GmbH. In a live demonstration, the LAM 3D printer processed the material with amazing results. Spectators were duly impressed.

German RepRap pioneered liquid additive manufacturing (LAM) and presented the technology in November of 2016 at the Formnext trade show in Frankfurt. This was the first demonstration worldwide that showed how liquid materials, such as silicone, can be processed in LAM 3D printers. This so-called “liquid silicone rubber” opened up new possibilities for the silicone-processing market. Simultaneously, the PU material was developed with the goal to create a wide range of properties, from soft to hard. The manufacturing process produces a comparable structure to that yielded from the FFF process. However, the PU material enables the printing of highly complex parts, which may be difficult or impossible with existing injection molding technology. Most importantly, the mechanical properties are virtually identical to those of an injection-molded part. This new ability to process polyurethane-based materials opens up whole new areas of application, such as prototype construction or functional models for consumer goods. The special properties of PU can meet a variety of requirements (e.g., specific strength and flame retardant materials). Processing at room temperature allows for a highly energy-efficient printing process and low material shrinkage between 1 and 2%. This makes challenges, such as thermal warping or detachment from the print bed, things of the past.

Polyurethanes are used predominantly as foams for insulation, mattresses, all types of upholstery, as well as paint and adhesive systems. Additional applications for PU materials are shoe soles, soccer balls, instrument panels, and most importantly, all types of seals, hoses, and sealants. Even though in most cases, the PU material in these applications remains hidden, it is used in nearly all areas of daily life. Thanks to their excellent mechanical properties, polyurethanes are suitable for special applications, such as those requiring high resistance to wear. This makes them suitable for applications in virtually all industries, especially automotive, aeronautical, and construction.

About German RepRap GmbH

German RepRap GmbH, headquartered in Feldkirchen bei München and originally founded as German RepRap Foundation (GRRF) in 2010, is a German manufacturer of industrial 3D printers “Made in Germany.” The company develops and produces 3D printers based on RepRap technology (fused filament fabrication) and markets them in combination with software, filaments, and accessories – directly as well as through a worldwide network of qualified distributors. German RepRap was the first company in Germany to introduce a RepRap-based large-capacity 3D printer for professional applications, the X400. The product line keeps expanding and includes 3D printers for professional use in product development, prototyping, model and mold construction, architecture, and design with a maximum print area of 1000 x 800 x 600 mm (39.4” x 31.5” x 23.6”). Customers around the world include large industrial companies in many sectors, such as automotive, aeronautics, medical devices, machinery and plant engineering and many more, as well as designers, architects, artists, universities and colleges and even discerning private users.

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About ebalta Kunststoff GmbH

ebalta Kunststoff GmbH, a medium-sized, owner-operated company, has been manufacturing and supplying specialty synthetic resins globally since 1974. The company offers a large range of services for the construction of casting molds, molds and tools, as well as design models. In Germany, ebalta has been a market leader in these areas for years. The company also offers high-performance resins for components in the areas of composites, rapid prototyping, and electrocasting. In addition to offering a diverse range of product, ebalta also designs customized solutions in collaboration with the customers to meet their specific requirements.

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