Innovative materials for 3D printing

18 November 2015

Covestro is driving forward the development of high-performance polymers for existing 3D printing processes. These include thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU), raw materials for polyurethane (PU) coatings and adhesives, and polycarbonates.

Stereolithography is the 3D printing process with the longest history of use to date. A workpiece is gradually lowered into a liquid photopolymer bath. A UV laser that initiates hardening of the polymer is used to create the layered structure. The 3D objects formed in this way reproduce the required shape exactly. The materials currently available are not usually very temperature- and light-resistant, nor are they particularly elastic. This offers opportunities for UV-curing resins based on polyurethane raw materials from Covestro.

Polymer jetting also uses photopolymers that are cured using UV radiation. In this method, the polymers are sprayed through print heads on to a platform. A number of materials with various colours or mechanical properties can also be used to build up structures layer by layer. Here, too, UV-curing resins based on polyurethane raw materials from Covestro may offer advantages over materials currently in use.

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