3D printing and manufacturing service Sculpteo and its parent, BASF, announced three new industrial materials.
BASF researchers have developed the materials and now will offer them “through Sculpteo” for 3D print clients.
The new materials include:
- Polyamide 6, a high-temperature-resistant PA6, and a similar flame resistant version
- TPU, for flexible 3D prints
- Polypropylene, for low-cost large part production
These are in addition to the metal BASF Ultrafuse 316L material already offered by Sculpteo. This makes quite a selection of high-quality BASF material from the service.
It seems that the pair are targeting the transportation industry with this announcement as all of the materials are suitable for use in vehicle production. Sculpteo says the TPU, for example, could be used to manufacture “intake pipes, joints, bellows or customized cockpits and dashboard elements”, and the PA6 can be used for “under-the-hood parts, ventilators and ventilation grids, headlights housing or brackets”, likely due to its heat resistance.
What’s very interesting is the PP material, as it is apparently intended to be used to 3D printed larger objects at Sculpteo, apparently on the service’s SLS and MJF equipment.
There’s plenty of challenges 3D printing such large objects, but one of them is the cost of materials: a larger part will naturally require a lot more material to complete printing. The cost of 3D print materials, particularly those with special engineering properties, tends to be on the high side.
With the PP offering, it should be possible to 3D print larger objects at a relatively lower cost. PP is a highly versatile material that should be able to be used in large functional parts.
BASF Sculpteo Relationship
This announcement is one of the first big items to emerge from the acquisition of Sculpteo by the chemical company last year.
The combination of high-performance materials and a 3D print service to consume them must have seemed irresistible by the parties in this arrangement, and we can now begin to see why. BASF can produce all manner of interesting materials and offer them through Sculpteo.
These materials are “integrated in BASF Forward AM’s catalogue of 3D printing materials” so seem to be available through BASF’s Forward AM arm to others, but regardless Sculpteo no doubt receives them at a very good internal price. Thus they should be able to offer amazing 3D print capabilities at reasonable costs as compared to other 3D print services that must buy materials at near-retail prices from chemical providers.
I’m pretty sure these new materials will be quite popular, and they’re likely only the beginning of an avalanche of highly functional materials to appear on Sculpteo’s menu.