Extruding Polyphenylene sulfide on the Advanced Level desktop filament extruder

Braided PPS expandable sleeving has many applications across a lot of industries where wiring must be protected
Braided PPS expandable sleeves have many applications across a lot of industries where wiring must be protected.

Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) is a high performance engineering plastic with high heat, acid, alkali, UV and abrasion resistance coupled with high dimensional and thermal stability. The plastic is also inherently flame retardant (material has been UL94 V-0 classed)  and has excellent water resistance. PPS as a material is new to Additive Manufacturing and currently little used in 3D printing. There are PPS resin grades suited for powder bed fusion technologies (Laser sintering, LS, selective laser sintering, SLS) and some FDM (Fused deposition modeling, FFF) filament is available. Outside 3D printing the compound is used for housings, electronics, electrical appliances and in the automotive industry. Solvay makes Ryton and Toray Torelina (and Toray’s Torelina resin is available as a SLS grade). There are a number of other manufacturers and also many specialized grades such as filled grades. PPS needs to be dried before processing 150 plus temperatures for 3 hours is recommended. Depending on the grade the glass transition temperature is 90, the melting point 278 and a melt temperature of between 315 and 343 when extruded. Typically for injection molding applications Polyphenylene sulfide requires 3 hours of drying at 130, a mold temperature of 130 and a cylinder temperature of 320.

PPS granulate.
PPS granulate.

We looked at and extruded PPS here at 3devo. We dried the material for 8 hours and then managed to successfully extrude filament from the material. The materials was comparatively easy to dial in and extrude as well as process.

PPS 3D Printing Filament
PPS 3D Printing Filament

We think that this is another step forward for our clients and look forward to dialing in and extruding many more materials for you.
 

Extruding polycarbonate (PC) on the NEXT 1.0 Advanced desktop filament extruder

A 3M Respiratory hood with a polycarbonate face mask.
A 3M Respiratory hood with a polycarbonate face mask.

Polycarbonate (PC) is a widely used strong, tough, stiff and durable thermoplastic polymer. Polycarbonate is used widely in construction, eyewear, consumer electronics, food packaging and the automotive industry (headlights, interiors). It can be transparent, be an electrical insulator and is known to have good thermal resistance and very good impact resistance.  There are hundreds of grades of PC varying from filled variants (carbon, carbon fiber, glass, fiber) to blends (PET, PBT) to alloys (with ABS, Acrylics). Inherently polycarbonate may have low scratch resistance and low long term UV resistance but this can be ameliorated by blends or additives (or by applying coatings to the final product). There are optically clear grades specifically for things such as safety glasses and grades that are flame retardant. If something needs to have high strength and impact resistance while being lightweight polycarbonate is often at the top of everyone’s list. If additionally it needs to be an insulator or have high optical clarity it is often the material of choice. Blow molding, injection molding and extrusion are all done with PC. Controversially polycarbonate is manufactured using bisphenol A. Even though many standards authorities consider the material safe for food contact applications there has been a consumer backlash against products in food contact applications that may contain bisphenol A. There are a whole host of polycarbonate manufacturers including Sabic, Celanese, Quadrant, Schulman, ChiMei, Teijin, DSM, Covestro (formerly Bayer Material Science), Ineos, Asai Kasei, Lehmann & Voss, Mitsubishi and many others. Due to this polycarbonate is known under many brand names such as Lexan, Makrolon, and Cycoloy.

Covestro's Makrolon polycarbonate sheets are used in outdoor applications such as the cladding for the Allianz Arena.
Covestro’s Makrolon polycarbonate sheets are used in outdoor applications such as the cladding for the Allianz Arena.

For many industries PC is a mainstay of their industrial plastics usage. With many grades being made and developed (because the material is so compatible with many other plastics) there is continual development in the Polycarbonate market as well. We’ve noted a high interest in PC from certain customers due to their high usage of the material.  Due to this we’ve been dialing in the material and extruding it on our 3devo and 3devo next.

Drying polycarbonate granules is an absolutely essential step when trying to make filament.
Drying polycarbonate granules is an absolutely essential step when trying to make filament.

 

We store our polycarbonate granules in airtight containers.
We store our polycarbonate granules in airtight containers.

What we’ve found is that drying out polycarbonate before use is absolutely essential. Drying has a huge impact on the process-ability of the material. The surface and the brittleness of the material are adversely affected if the material is not sufficiently dry. Depending on the grade an additives five hours at 110 Celsius is recommended. With some grades longer drying times or drying times at a higher temperature such as 120 may be better.

One of our test filament extruders while making polycarbonate filament.
One of our test filament extruders while making polycarbonate filament.
A roll of polycarbonate 3D printing filament made on a 3devo filament extruder
A roll of poly-carbonate 3D printing filament made on a 3devo filament extruder

Our Polycarbonate filament performs well and are waiting to see what our customers will develop with this material .

 

 

 

Making PVA Filament with the NEXT 1.0 Advanced

PVA Bait bag with bait inside.
A PVA Mesh Bait Bag used in fishing.

PVA or polyvinyl alcohol is a relatively rare material in industry and is usually very difficult to process. Water acts like a plasticizer for PVA and the material is water soluble. This means that any humidity can adversely affect its performance and even eventually break it down. PVA is used in glues and also in bait bags for fishing carp for example. Bait is inserted in the bag and this is put into the water to attract fish. Once the bait bag dissolves in water, the bait spreads around the hook leading to more fish more likely to bite. The fact that PVA is water soluble and considered safe means that for a number of years it has been seen as the ideal support material for FDM 3D printing. Fused Depositioning Modeling (FDM, also called FFF) systems use a nozzle to extrude and lay down plastic filament such as ABS or PLA. A build platform is then lowered and a new layer is applied. Industrial 3D printing systems have long used a second nozzle to extrude a sacrificial support material to support overhangs in the 3D print. This material is later removed. Sometimes supports can be a breakaway support structure or a material that has a lower head deflection temperature or strength than the build material. Stratasys, the company that invented FDM, has a wax support material for example. The company also however has a PPSF support material (polyethersulfone) , a polystyrene support material which is meant to be removed manually and a water soluble support material called 2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, polymer with methyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate which is an acrylic and another which is a Terpolymer of Methacrylic Acid, Styrene, and Butylacrylate. Depending on the 3D printing process, the build material and the requirements of the part, many different supports are available.

Virgin PLA Granules with a much needed desiccant bag.
Virgin PVA Granules with a much needed desiccant bag.

For the desktop 3D printing community however PVA is the most researched and most coveted. PVA’s environmentally friendly characteristics coupled with the ease of use in removing the supports have lead to many companies looking into it. PVA is however notoriously difficult to keep. It must be dried before use. Even then, in a normal room PVA can quickly be adversely affected by water. In some cases a mere 12 hours in a room may degrade the material considerably. During normal 3D printing operations the material can also degrade much faster than other materials. What we discovered in our experiments with the material is that in addition to these issues care must be taken when extruding it. Any PVA remnants inside nozzles for example can wreak havoc on subsequent 3D prints and extrusions. Tricky stuff, PVA. This is also one of the reasons (along with nozzle lifting and software) while dual extrusion and support material on desktop 3D printers is so difficult to do. Many companies have researched dual extrusion and are trying to implement it. The difficulty of working with the engineering, software and material however has lead to only precious few 3D printing companies actually being able to make dual extrusion with PVA a reality. Even of those who say they can do several can not reliably do it.

A Spool of PVA filament made with the 3devo
A Spool of PVA filament made with the 3devo NEXT 1.0 Advanced Extruder

After drying out and extruding the material we were able to create good PVA filament with it in less than half a day of testing. The material was tested in prints and as a support and performed well. We will share our learnings with customers who are interested in making or developing their own PVA filaments.

 

3devo attends formnext, a great 3D printing and additive manufacturing show

the 3devo stand at formnext Frankfurt 2016
the 3devo stand at formnext Frankfurt 2016

Lisette, Lucas, Jasper and Tim visited the formnext show in Frankfurt for 3devo. Formnext is one of the biggest shows in 3D printing. The show attracts many players from across the 3D printing industry from industrial metal printing companies to compounders and software vendors. This year over 13,000 visitors attended the show visiting 307 exhibitor stands. Formnext is a nice chance to meet almost our entire industry in one go. Anyone from all the machine OEMs to service bureaus in Europe attend. It was great for our team to be introduced to so many people in one go. In a few days we were also able to see many innovations and new product launches. Not that our team got a lot of opportunity to leave our stand. We were swamped. The team really liked meeting so many people, especially since the attendees were so knowledgeable about 3D printing, plastics and our industry. We had two machines on our stand and were extruding PLA and other materials non stop to show people that the 3devo NEXT 1.0 is a reliable high end device.  We had a lot of good conversations with plastics companies, chemical companies, industrials, OEMs and compounders. It was a very successful event for us and we will be sure to attend again.

Formnext stand 2016 with Tim.
Formnext stand 2016 with Tim.

Tim said that, “it was great to in a few days meet so many people from the Additive Manufacturing industry and meet so many people with deep plastics and manufacturing knowledge”, “apart from the many useful conversations and new contacts the event was well organized and fun.” Lisette added that, “Formnext was incredibly hectic and busy for us and an excellent opportunity to meet so many manufacturing firms.” Besides being on our stand the team also got along great with the folks from Opiliones, the large format delta 3D printer OEM which were our neighbors. There were visits to the Brauhaus and a BASF party replete with bands and beers. The event space was impeccable and everything was very well organized.  Altogether we can really recommend formnext for any 3D printing company or anyone who wants to in a short time get a good overview of the manufacturing side of 3D printing. There are a plethora of 3D printing shows nowadays but if you attend only one, do formnext. See you all next year!

Developing PA 12 FDM Filament with the 3devo Filament Extruder

A spool of PA 12 FDM filament.
A spool of PA 12 FDM filament.

At 3devo our NEXT 1.0 Advanced (Industrial) Desktop Filament extruders can be used to make all manner of grades of plastics and filaments. Many customers of ours want to use the machine to develop lots of different types of plastics. Some are interested specifically in one polymer in particular. One thermoplastic that our customer’s were specifically interested in was PA 12. We tested the material and made spools of PA 12 FDM filament for our customers.

Polyamide 12 is a widely used polymer especially in the packaging industry but it is also used in things such as concealer and medicine. The material is biocompatible, flexible and has good chemical resistance and high impact strength.

PA 12 polyamide surgical guide 3D printed
A 3D printed polyamide surgical guide made from PA 12. The guide is patient specific and made so that the surgeon knows where she can cut. By Orthaxy.

In 3D printing PA 12 is used extensively in selective laser sintering (SLS or LS) as a powder. This powder material is the most popular SLS material in the world. Surgical guides, orthotics, prototypes, short run parts and many of the 3D printed parts that you have seen have been PA 12. Materialise’s design brand .MGX was the first 3D printing design brand. Pioneering design by Jeanne Kyttannen featured the Lilly lamp which was made in both Stereolithography materials and in PA 12. As an SLS 3D printing material it has a powdery feel and is porous.

Lilly.MGX Lamp by Jeanne Kytannen and Materialise made in PA 12.
Lilly.MGX Lamp by Jeanne Kytannen and Materialise made in PA 12.

Due to high customer interest in the material we’ve decided to test and make Polyamide PA 12 FDM filament. PA 12’s versatility and high degree of use in 3D printing and beyond made it a very worthwhile material to extrude as well. We extruded the material on our 3devo Next to see if it could then be tested to see if it could confirm to customer specifications. We dialed in the material over the course of less than a day and it conformed to spec. We then 3D printed test parts on an Ultimaker 2+ to see the results as a printed part. We’re very happy with the filament and the print. Our customers are also happy that thanks to our data it will now be easier for them to dial in their specific PA 12’s. We will be adding the PA 12 Material Preset to a future software update on our machines.

A PA 12 part 3D printed on an Ultimaker. Filament made on a 3devo Next.
A PA 12 part 3D printed on an Ultimaker. Filament made on a 3devo NEXT 1.0 extruder.