Formlabs announced a very interesting new material, Tough 1500 Resin.
Hold on, didn’t Formlabs already offer a “Tough” resin? In fact, they have for several years. Their original “Tough Resin” formulation was able to produce parts with significant rigidity and strength. At the time of its introduction, this was quite a valuable feature as typical resin 3D prints tend to be a bit fragile and thus not suitable for some applications.
Tough 1500 Resin
Now, the company announced “Tough 1500 Resin”, which is quite a bit different from the original Tough Resin. The “1500” in the name comes from the measure of the product’s tensile modulus, which turns out to be exactly 1500 MPa.
The idea here is that Tough 1500 Resin is designed to bend significantly, yet spring back to its original configuration when the bending force is removed. They say it’s much like polypropylene, yet is not polypropylene.
This is good news. Resin 3D printers have the unfortunate characteristic of not being able to print prototype objects in the intended target material because that’s the nature of resin: materials must be mixed with a liquid photopolymer. Thus you often see resins labeled “ABS-like” and so on. While it isn’t literally the target material, it can be used as such for prototyping purposes.
Polypropylene-Like 3D Printer Resin
In this case Formlabs has produced a resin that is Polypropylene-like, opening up the possibility for a new range of prototyping, or even end-use design that hasn’t previously been possible on their devices.
For example, Tough 1500 Resin could be used to create durable snap-fit parts that could be used over and over without failure. Similarly, hinge-like components that fold over could be built, again lasting for long periods.
Tough 1500 Resin Application
Formlabs tells of one beta-tester of the new resin who successfully applied the material in an automotive procedure. The client’s business was to upgrade vehicles, part of which was to replace the bumpers. However, this required them to painstakingly remove and re-apply on the new bumpers six sensor mounts.
Instead they developed a procedure whereby they can 3D print in advance a batch of equivalent sensor mounts using Tough 1500 resin and simply install them directly on the new bumper. This removed the need to deinstall the old ones, saving considerable time.
The company could have 3D printed these parts previously, but they would not have been able to produce it in the right combination of durability and flexibility to accept the sensors without snapping apart.
This is an excellent example of how a new material’s capability can directly impact business operations. However, it takes awareness of the possibility and some ingenuity to make it happen.
Formlabs Tough 1500 Resin is now available for order at US$175 per 1L cartridge.