Last summer, chemical company BASF deepened its commitment to additive manufacturing materials with the formation of BASF 3D Printing Solutions, a subsidiary focused entirely on 3D printing. The company has been building up a strong inventory of 3D printing materials, with help from partnerships such as that with Essentium Materials. The two companies are working together to build up a global distribution network for plastic filaments, and both are pooling a significant portion of their industrial materials under the name Ultrafuse. BASF 3D Printing Solutions is presenting a new one of these, as well as other new filaments, this week at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) conference.

The Ultrafuse series of filaments has been developed solely for industrial applications.

“We want to offer our customers all over the world high-quality, high-performance materials for fused filament fabrication printing technology,” said Firat Hizal, Marketing & Sales Manager Plastic Filaments at BASF 3D Printing Solutions.

In addition, the company intends to offer its customers its expertise in application development and FFF 3D printing. BASF 3D Printing Solutions’ and Essentium Materials’ cross-regional distribution agreement covers several products, including Ultrafuse Z, an extra strong filament based on BASF’s technology, developed by Essentium, and offered in combination with Essentium’s FlashFuse processing technology.

“This enables us to provide a special material for FFF that allows printing components with optimum strength in the z-direction,” said Hizal.

Over the coming year, the two companies plan to release additional specialty filaments including filled and flame-retardant. In addition to filament, BASF 3D Printing Solutions is also introducing a new SLS material, Ultrasint PA6 LM X085, a gray polyamide-6-based powder that melts at about 193°C and is easy to process on most SLS 3D printers. Components 3D printed with this material are stiff and strong.

“These properties allow us to offer a PA6-based material to customers, especially those in the automotive and consumer goods industries, where today there is mainly only a choice between different PA11 and PA12 types,” said Alexander Cochrane, Marketing Manager 3D-Printing Powder Bed Fusion. “The first parts produced with new Ultrasint PA6 LM are convincing, so we expect to be able to supply our first customers with our powder material in late summer.”

Photo-Resin X004M is suitable for break-resistant parts, for example post-colored electric circuit connectors. [Image: BASF]

BASF 3D Printing Solutions is also working on some UV-reactive materials. Photo-Resin X004M recently became available and has been specially optimized for SLA, DLP and LCD 3D printers. It has shown promising results so far, with its high tensile strength and high elasticity modulus.

“We also plan to bring our latest material developments in the area of photopolymers to the market in the near future, to meet industry customers’ requirements for flexible and above all high strength photopolymer components,” said András Marton, Marketing & Sales Manager Photopolymers at BASF 3D Printing Solutions.

Parts made from Ultrafuse 316LX [Image: BASF]

Additional developments in UV-reactive materials involve ceramic phototpolymers, which allow for the additive manufacturing of metal casting molds for applications in the automotive and aerospace fields.

“We are excited to announce a… no-compromise materials portfolio, backed by a true world-class supply chain in our partnership with BASF,” Greg Ojeda, Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder of Essentium Materials, told 3DPrint.com. “For the first time customers don’t have to compromise when they choose 3D printing as their preferred fabrication method. They can choose from the same engineering materials they design for today, get the same characteristics they expect from traditional methods like injection molding, and the strength and accuracy they require to use the final part in their product. This is just the beginning, and we believe our industrial platform and materials road map will provide a strong foundational technology as manufacturing continues to transform and mature into a true digital ecosystem.”

BASF 3D Printing Solutions, meanwhile, will be focusing its attention on the automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, medical and dental technology industries. The company has been a member of the Direct Manufacturing Research Center (DMRC) at the University of Paderborn, which aims to improve additive manufacturing processes and further develop the technology for end applications.

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