Stratasys announced a new material that has some very interesting properties.
The new material is “Antero™ 800NA”, which is a PEKK-based substance, which they say offers “high performance mechanical, chemical, and thermal properties.”
PEKK (not “PEEK”) is a thermoplastic in the PAEK family, specifically named ”Polyetherketoneketone”. It’s said to be as strong as aluminum, but having only 40% of the weight of aluminum, which itself is a very light metal. The material is also quite resistive to chemicals.
Even more interesting is that this particular material is electro-static dissipative.
Apparently one of the first Stratasys customers using Antero is Lockheed Martin, who are using it to create several parts for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Above is an image of one of their parts, a component of the ship’s docking ring.
The properties of great strength and lightweight are ideal for aerospace applications, including the Orion project. I’m wondering if this material might take a bite out of Stratasys’ existing ULTEM materials market.
Currently Antero does not appear on Stratasys’s otherwise comprehensive materials pages, so I cannot state the price of the material. That said, it’s likely if you have a use for this material you may not be particularly concerned with the price, as the application’s benefit from unusual parts produced with it could outweigh any price concerns.
I’ve often thought that the future of 3D printing, at least for the next few years, will center on the use of increasingly effective materials. Materials need to match the needs of a much broader set of applications.
That seems to be occurring here, with Stratasys developing a unique product that no doubt fits a number of application niches. And it’s even possible its existence may create new niches that leverage the material’s properties.
Could this material be considered a “spin off” of the space program? I’m sure some will play it that way, but whether the chicken or egg came first, we now have yet another fascinating material to consider using in our projects.