When I talk with people about our additive solutions from Stratasys, most of the time the conversation starts with “our part is made in X material; what is the closest material that you can print in?” In the past, we’ve had access to a relatively large selection of thermoplastics on our FDM technology. However, the rate at which new 3D printing materials have been added to the printable lineup has traditionally been very slow, and the materials available only cover a small percentage of manufacturable thermoplastics out there. That is changing now though, with the introduction of two new programs from Stratasys, coming to the Fortus 450mc this winter: Validated Materials and OpenAM!
The goal is straightforward – expand the portfolio of printable thermoplastics. Since printing in “close to” the same material that you would traditionally manufacture a part in isn’t usually the ideal solution, expanding the portfolio of printable thermoplastics is critical.
With an avalanche of new 3D printing materials, covering a dramatic range of mechanical capabilities, the goal of increasing the material portfolio is obtainable – thanks to the Stratasys Validated Materials lineup!
Stratasys Validated Materials are:
- Typically produced by third party manufacturers but held to Stratasys Quality Standards.
- Have been tested by Stratasys internally to ensure that they work, though testing is not as extensive as “Preferred Materials” (fully optimized materials, typically produced by Stratasys directly).
- Have been tuned to ensure success out of the box in GrabCAD Print and Insight.
- Have a pathway to becoming Preferred materials eventually, pending additional testing/tuning, and with a large enough adoption rate.
- Will be purchasable directly from TriMech and Stratasys, packaged in the same manner that the traditional Stratasys materials are spooled inside of a cartridge, airtight mylar bag, and in a clearly labeled Stratasys box.
Let’s take a look at these new 3D printing materials releasing through the Validated Materials Program!
Kimya PC-FR is a Flame Retardant Polycarbonate based material that is geared primarily towards railway applications. This material is a lower cost FR option than the traditionally available thermoplastics and meets EN45545 (European Market) and NFPA 130 (US Market) standards, so a fantastic option for replacement parts and custom new components.
It has tensile strength in the XZ direction that is 25% stronger and 180% stronger in un-notched IZOD Impact Strength than our current Preferred Polycarbonate material. It also has a much wider usage temperature range of -80C to 120C, as well as the FST (UL 94 V0) and electrical insulation properties, along with several other minor benefits. Kimya PC-FR is a great new addition to the FDM material lineup!
Covestro Addigy PA6/66 GF20 FR LS
The name is a mouthful, but Addigy PA6/66 is a 20% glass filled Nylon 6/66 based material that has an excellent raw surface finish right off the machine, with a laundry list of capabilities that all point directly to the Railway Industry:
- Similar to Kimya PC-FR, it’s a lower cost FST material: it is a Non-Halogenated Flame Retardant thermoplastic, and meets EN45545-2, NFPA 130 (ASTM E162, ASTM E662), SMP 800-C, and FAR 25.853!
- It’s Strong and Stiff, similar to the 30% Chopped Carbon Filled Nylon 12 currently available on the Fortus 450mc as a Preferred material.
- It also naturally has relatively high chemical resistance properties!
If you had asked me just a few months ago if we would have access to easy to print glass filled FDM thermoplastics, I would have thought it was impossible due to the difficulty of extruding such a coarse filled filament. But it turns out that it is, and I am extremely excited to run this material on my Fortus 450mc!
I’m always asked about three types of materials: Delrin, Polypropylene, and PEEK. As it turns out, the fast crystallinity rate of PEEK makes it difficult to print in ANY FDM style printing process, as it leads to weak layer to layer strength in the Z direction.
FDM HIPS, standing for High Impact Polystyrene, initially sounds like an odd fit in the Fortus 450mc material lineup; mechanically, most categories are slightly better than or slightly worse than ABS.
With that said, there is one category where it stands out in particular, as it has an un-notched impact strength of 15.5 ft-lbs/in, vs. ABS with 5.45 ft-lbs/in; close to 3x tougher! It is also close to 20% less expensive to print than ABS, which give FDM HIPS the potential to be the new go-to material for low cost/low mechanical requirement printing for a variety of applications.
Preferred Materials: New Colors
Outside of the additional Validated Materials from third party manufacturers, there are many new colors of existing Preferred Materials that will be coming out with the Validated Materials program. These color variations of existing 3D printing materials including Polycarbonate, PC-ABS, and Ultem 9085 will all be equal to or better than the current variant in all major categories, and include:
- Black and Red Polycarbonate
- Red PC-ABS
- MANY Ultem 9085 Colors
Using Validated Materials
So how does this work? How can you take advantage of these new Validated materials as soon as they become available? That’s easy, all you will need is:
- A Fortus 450mc. Pending the success of this program, I could certainly see a world where more systems are opened up to Validated materials, but for now Stratasys is starting with the most reliable and repeatable, widely adopted FDM printer on the market the Fortus 450mc.
- Your Fortus 450mc will need to have all material licenses. Most Fortus 450mc machines in the field do have this capability, but if you do not, please reach out to the team at TriMech and we can help!
- Potentially, for some of these materials, the hardened system upgrade along with the hardened print head. Not all Validated Materials require this, but some do, and if your machine doesn’t have the hardened upgrade and head, let us know and we can help get you upgraded!
- The right tips, support material, build sheets, etc. to print these new materials with.
- Finally, you will need to reach out to Stratasys to get a license file update which will tell the printer itself that these new 3D printing materials exist.
Navigating the world of Additive Manufacturing can be a daunting task when trying to find the best solution for your company. Even with the Validated Materials program expanding the FDM thermoplastic lineup at a significantly faster pace than in the past, if the right material for your application is out there and it just hasn’t made it to the Stratasys ecosystem yet, then the OpenAM program may be a great fit!
At its core, OpenAM is a program that will enable the end user to utilize any FDM thermoplastic out there on their Fortus 450mc. The actual OpenAM software gives users the capability to fully edit build parameters for the printer to use when running the materials, including:
- Oven Temperature
- Liquefier Temperature
- Various velocities of mechanical operations
- Flow Factor
- Purge time
- Fan settings
- And other settings that control the extruded bead of material
This is an extremely exciting departure for Stratasys! The Fortus 450mc is a best-in-class Industrial 3D Printer, combining unmatched build accuracy and repeatability with extreme reliability and fantastic customer support. All of these things make it the ideal system to support the OpenAM platform. We expect great things to come from those using the OpenAM with the new third-party materials, and even tweaking settings for existing Preferred or Validated materials.
We will keep you up to date with the latest details. If you have questions, want to gain first access to the OpenAM, Validated Materials, or need a Fortus 450mc to join in on these exciting new programs get in touch below!