Windform RS is a new SLS material that will certainly be used in specific 3D printing applications.
Made by Italy-based CRP Technology, Windform RS joins the company’s Windform portfolio of advanced powders for SLS 3D printing. It’s the tenth material for their “TOP LINE” range of materials, joining several others, each of which has specific engineering properties.
Windform RS is a polyamide material that is reinforced with chopped carbon fibers, and is black in color.
While other materials in their catalog might be rigid and strong, Windform RS is unique in that it provides the unusual combination of a high tensile strength (85.25 Mpa) and ductility (elongation at break of 9.46%). It’s also quite lightweight at only 1.1g/cc.
CRP Technologies said these properties mean Windform RS can be used in mechanical applications that can withstand shock at a very large range of temperatures, apparently all the way down to -40C (-40F).
They also said Windform RS is quite water resistant, and has some flame resistance, being rated “HB” on the UL 94 test. They said:
“Windform RS provides enhanced functionality, offering product designers and engineers greater flexibility and speed in developing intricate parts that must be resistant to fatigue, shocks, high and low temperatures.”
Finally, the material is said to be very easy to 3D print, as opposed to other competing materials. CRP Technology’s CEO / CTO Franco Cevolini explained:
“This is a very important property not to underestimate. Many materials on the AM market claim high performance, but their ‘printability’ turns to be difficult during the sintering of the part, thus complications arise leading to bad quality and poor performance.
This does not happen with Windform RS and with all our composite materials: the Windform TOP-LINE range offers high performance and maintains optimal ease of print, which turn to a superior final product.”
I can see Windform RS being used in several specific application areas, including sporting applications, where 3D printed parts might be used in extreme outdoor conditions. It’s also likely machine components in certain industries could benefit from Windform RS.
If you were to look across CRP Technology’s product catalog, you’d see a number of unusual SLS powders. Some are straight polymers, while many are composites involving glass or carbon fibers for strength. CRP Technology is one of only a few companies producing advanced SLS materials, while most manufacturers of this type of AM equipment offer only basic materials.
It’s vitally important for the AM industry to have a selection of materials offering a variety of engineering properties, because that is the only way applications will make their way into the AM world. If a product’s needs do not have a corresponding 3D printing material, then the manufacturer will simply turn to traditional manufacturing. The fewer engineering gaps exist, the more AM will occur.
Windform RS just filled one of those gaps.