One of the most exciting aspects of exploring our platform at Shapeways is learning more about how users on all levels are innovating today, and how you might be able to expand your own concepts and designs further through 3D printing. There are a variety of different, affordable services and products offered; however, one of the most important facets that must always be considered — from Shapeways to the entire 3D printing space worldwide — is materials. You can modify printers and write new software all day long, but without a good selection of feedstocks to choose from, quality results are nearly impossible.

BASF (the world’s largest chemical company) began partnering with Shapeways this year in providing new materials through their  Forward AM brand. Our new Powered by Shapeways platform enables users to choose from BASF’s Forward AM materials, expanding accessibility and options for high-performance parts.

The new material portfolio includes powders and photopolymers ideally suited for prototypes and functional end-use parts, designed for industrial applications. Current materials available include: ­­­­­Ultrasint TPU01, Ultrasint PP nat 01, Ultracur3D RG 35, and HP High Reusability PP enabled by BASF.

Ultrasint TPU01

Ultrasint is a high-performing thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) powder, enabling the production of elastomeric functional parts, obtaining similar performance as injection molding. These parts are flexible, tough, and provide high elongation and impact resistance for applications such as soft grip systems, footwear, seating and protective gear. It’s also well-suited for soft non-marring tooling, flexible tubing, wheels and ducts. Some of the main features include:

  • High level of detail
  • Good surface quality
  • Recyclability (Ultrasint TPU01 offers up to 80% reusability ratio)
  • Airtight parts (down to 1mm wall thickness)
  • UV resistance
  • Hydrolysis resistance

Approved for contact with skin, TPU01 is popular in automotive applications such as car interior components like headrests or seats. Materials allow for the customization of the parts based on individual needs. Many of the best advantages of 3D printing technology can be used with TPU01 in particular, to include exponentially less time spent in development, production, and assembly time — along with elimination of tooling requirements and cost. Texture can be customized in terms of hardness/softness, and a variety of accompanying finishing options.

Another unique benefit of TPU01 is that it can be used to 3D print protective gear. This material enables lattice structure designs which can be strong, yet lightweight and can be completely customized for the wearer, including special modifications for the job requirements of the individual. While it is flexible, hardness can also be customized during the design process based on the structure of the part.

3D printing is employed in many footwear applications these days, and by users of widely varying experience and resource levels—from leading sports shoe companies to designers fabricating elegant flats or heels at their studios or from home workshops. Midsoles typically represent the 3D printed portion of shoes, with TPU01 allowing for consumer-specific customizations for greater comfort — designed around the wearer’s step, gait, pressure, and support — whether for sports, running, or other needs. Shoes can be made quickly, affordably, and on-demand.

TPU01 can also be used to 3D print midsoles that are eco-friendly, requiring less material, as well as offering improved aesthetics and performance. Personalized touches can be applied afterward with a variety of different finishes and color choices.

Download the material data sheet from this page.

Ultrasint PP nat 01

Polypropylene is one of the most used materials in the plastic industry. Ultrasint PP nat 01 is typically used for serial production and functional prototypes. This material offers excellent plasticity, high elongation, low moisture absorption, high durability and excellent chemical resistance. It also allows for post processing like hot plate and vibratory welding, while the printed parts are resistant to most acids and bases.

Ultrasint PP nat 01 can be used for production of smaller components like fluid reservoirs, interior and exterior automotive parts, air ducts and piping, clips, covers, hinges, and more. The high rigidity, ductility, and toughness of this material makes it especially well-suited for technical applications and durable 3D printed polypropylene parts. On top of that, it’s an economically attractive alternative to PA12.

Download the material data sheet from this page.

Ultracur3D RG 35

Ultracur RG 35 (rigid product line) is a medium viscosity, highly reactive photopolymer resulting in rigid multipurpose parts. Unlike many traditional photopolymers for 3D printing, Ultracur3D RG 35 keeps its mechanical properties even when exposed to UV light or humidity. Ultracur3D RG 35 is well-suited to 3D print high performance functional parts including:

  • Connectors
  • Snappers
  • End-use components

Ultracur3D® RG 35

Recommended for parts that require rigidity, Ultracur RG 35 offers excellent resolution in printing, low shrinkage, accuracy, and both speed and ease in production. 

Download the material data sheet from this page.

HP High Reusability PP

A polypropylene material qualified for HP’s production-grade Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers, HP High Reusability PP is suitable for making parts that are chemically resistant like piping and fluid systems, as well as automotive parts for the interior, exterior, and under the hood. This material can also help reduce waste by enabling the reusability of the surplus powder.

Download the material data sheet from this page.

Here at Shapeways, we have always offered a rich foundation for providing a wide range of materials suitable for industrial use. And while there are certainly no rules within the 3D printing realm about using (as well as continually developing) and experimenting with materials, our partnership with BASF has yielded a treasure trove of quality materials for the automotive industry, as well as for critical applications used in aerospacearchitecture, and medicine. Recently, our team has also focused on offering 3D printing for robotics and drone applications.

Whether you are a busy designer or an engineer hoping to have a prototype or functional part 3D printed quickly, you will find an inspiring range of materials available at Shapeways. Without having to invest in industrial printers or materials on your own, you can benefit from our long-term experience and investment in proprietary, advanced technology.

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