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Innovative materials offer new possibilities in 3D printing
Which industries will reap the most benefits?
You’re probably quite familiar with 3D printing technology already. Thanks to its affordability and relatively easy serviceability, this technology is increasingly employed by large companies and small producers alike as it allows for cheaper and faster, tailor-made production. There are several 3D printing methods in use, the most common of which is fused deposition modeling. The FDM method makes products using progressive application of melted production material. This method has been used for a number of years to produce various plastic objects for countless industry applications.
Thanks to tireless research and development, the 3D printing technology could soon also offer an effective method of manufacturing polymer products and models requiring the type of form precision needed in medicinal uses. That’s exactly what’s being worked on at Polymer Institute Brno in collaboration with Unipetrol RPA s.r.o. Together they are developing new materials and technologies which promise major advancement for the medical industry. Their goal is to innovate existing commercially available materials and thus ensure optimal utilization of modern 3D printer possibilities.
„Innovation of the manufacturing materials opens up possibilities of new applications, thus enabling us to utilize the full range of available functions this technology offers,” says Pavel Huljak, a development expert from Polymer Institute Brno.
Materials like PP (polypropylene), PLA (polylactic acid) or PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) allow for addition of inorganic extenders, powders, fibers and colorants. This enables the preparation of visually attractive 3D models with phosphorescent or mica shine properties. It’s also possible to create prints filled with wood flour or metal powder to 3D print objects which appear to be wooden or metal after polishing. It’s also theoretically possible to prepare small components for condensers or electronic equipment containing electro conductive carbon black to conduct electric charge. The future even promises possibilities for creating polymer and biodegradable scaffolding with a large internal porosity for application in tissue engineering, drug carriers or dental implants.