TPU Elastomers From Powder
I’m watching another of Sinterit’s amusing videos, this time about TPU elastomers.
The Polish company produces an inexpensive desktop SLS 3D printer, perhaps one of the most cost-effective options for enabling an SLS capability.
The SLS process involves firing a powerful laser at a flat bed of powder, selectively fusing portions a layer at a time. Repeating the process layer by layer allows a complete 3D object to be created. Once complete, operators dig the finalized print out of the powder bed and clean it for use.
Sinterit’s machine began sales a few years ago with their Sinterit Lisa option. Later, they introduced the Sinterit Lisa Pro, a much more capable machine.
While the Lisa is currently priced at only US$8990, The Lisa Pro is somewhat more expensive at US$14,490. In most cases, both machines would require the additional purchase of an accessory kit that includes a cleaning station and a starter set of powder materials.
The SLS process is most typically used for producing strong nylon objects, usually with PA6, PA11 or PA12 materials, and in fact Sinterit’s early years nylon was the material of choice. However, they smartly added a flexible powder material not that long ago.
The material was TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane. It’s a very interesting material that is used in some filament materials, but is rarer in powder systems. Like nylon, TPU can be used for prototype or even production parts using SLS systems.
Inexpensive SLS 3D Printing
Sinterit has published an amusing video about their TPU material, and there’s some interesting points within that tell you more about TPU elastomers. By the way, an elastomer is a thermoplastic that is a flexible material with the ability to reform to its original shape after deformation.
These properties make TPU an ideal material for certain applications, particularly where components must repeatedly bend and snap back to a standard configuration.
Amusing TPU Video
Sinterit’s video features the wry Konrad Kobus, a mechanical engineer at Sinterit who is featured in many of their videos, including this one where he discusses nylon powder materials for SLS.
Kobus’ amusing presentation style is engaging and keeps you watching; this is quite different from your typical dull engineer speaking on a technical topic that is so often seen in similar videos. Other 3D printing companies could take note of this approach to improve their frequently dry videos.
I learned a few things about TPU SLS prints with this video, one of which was that the resulting prints are actually somewhat porous. If you intend on using the part for use with fluids, you must dip it in a sealant — which is provided by Sinterit, of course.
If you’re curious about TPU prints, give this video a watch.