FABULOUS announced a new 3D print material, “ACTIVE”.
The French company is a producer of high-end thermoplastic materials for 3D print applications, which they describe as “fabulous”.
Previously they announced the unusual BLUECARE material that was specifically designed for the food industry. BLUECARE, with its vibrant blue appearance, is completely food safe. This means it could be used to 3D print parts for machinery that comes in contact with food.
While that may sound a little niche, it is a large application area: food production equipment often requires a change of tooling in order to produce new or unique items, an ideal application for 3D printing. That is, if you have an approved material for the job.
Now FABULOUS has another application-specific material: ACTIVE. They explain:
”ACTIVE is a new material specific to the Water industry : it has been certified (ACS certification) for potable water applications and plastic parts in contact with drinkable water, such as water pumps, hydraulic systems, data sensors, and all permanent water-immersed parts.”
The white-colored ACTIVE material is a PA11 composite material. FABULOUS describes the composition:
“ACTIVE is a fine composite powder charged with glass beads based on polyamide 11 (thermoplastic) especially formulated to function on rapid prototyping systems by laser sintering (SLS, LS) or radiation (IRS, MJF). It enables to obtain productions of large and massive models with long cycle of life and excellent chemical resistance.”
ACTIVE has a melting point of 160C and does not dissolve in water, obviously.
ACTIVE was developed through a partnership between FABULOUS and Farsoon Technologies, a notable manufacturer of industrial 3D printers, some of which use the SLS process using polymer materials, including BLUECARE and ACTIVE. Apparently one Farsoon client, UK-based Ricoh 3D Print Services, is already printing objects with ACTIVE for at least one client.
FABULOUS said that while ACTIVE is normally available in white color, they do offer the ability to ship custom color masterbatches if the order exceeds 600kg.
That’s interesting, because BLUECARE’s blue color was functionally useful: it would be easy to tell if a part was allowed to come in contact with food materials. That color, RAL 5005, is not normally found coloring food items, so it is easy to tell when the equipment is fouled with food. Apparently that color standard is widely used in the food industry.
There doesn’t seem to be a similar color function with ACTIVE, as you can obtain custom colors.
Nevertheless, ACTIVE will certainly be of great interest to anyone designing and printing water application parts. This could be a larger market than the food industry, as there are countless applications for filters, turbines, adapters, splitters and other fluid fittings. All of these could be produced in ACTIVE with the assurance that the material is certified for use with potable water configurations.
I’m quite pleased to see this new material, in addition to BLUECARE, because they are application-specific materials. Previously most materials were organized and marketed “chemically”. Instead here we see materials that are matched with applications, making it far easier for companies to associate the brand and leverage the specific properties of the material.