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Materials Made for Manufacturing the Future

Geoff Giordano
By Geoff Giordano Contributing Editor, SME Media

With more manufacturers and engineers embracing additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, for serial production of functional parts, the demand for and creation of high-performing additive materials continues at a rapid pace.

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MakerBot's METHOD X

In its 10th year, MakerBot has formulated a new generation of materials optimized to produce a broad array of parts, jigs, fixtures and prototypes on its portfolio of benchtop machines – including its METHOD X manufacturing workstation, launched in August.

These new materials include:

  • PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol), the first specialty material to be released for MakerBot’s METHOD 3D Printer.
  • ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
  • ASA (acrylonitrile styrene acrylate)
  • PVA (water-soluble supports)
  • Stratasys SR-30 (industrial supports)

Industrial-grade PETG has a heat deflection temperature up to 70 degrees C. Its strong layer adhesion reduces shrinkage and warping, and it resists moisture and many chemicals. Used with water-soluble PVA, it can produce complex parts whose supports can be easily removed. Compared with PLA and ABS, PETG is stronger and prints with a glossy finish, no odor and a good degree of ductility. For those reasons, it is ideal for manufacturing, particularly short production runs. Its material properties include:

  • 2,020 MPA tensile modulus
  • 50 MPA tensile strength
  • 8.1 kJ/m2 impact strength

MakerBot ABS is free of the stabilizers and modifiers that lead to warping and cracking, and boasts a heat deflection rate of 84 degrees — 15 degrees hotter than ABS materials modified for desktop printers. Liquid containers, signage/graphic displays and electronics housings are among the durable parts possible with this ABS, which boasts:

  • 2,400 MPA tensile modulus (26 percent more rigid than typical modified ABS for desktop 3D printers)
  • 42 MPA tensile strength (12 percent stronger than typical modified ABS for desktop 3D printers)
  • ±0.007 inches (0.2 mm) printed part dimensional accuracy (with METHOD X)

For outdoor applications, where materials need to withstand harsh environments, MakerBot’s engineering-grade ASA features high weather resistance. This makes it an ideal choice for anything from automotive side-view mirror housings to outdoor electrical box covers. Similar to ABS, ASA has stronger UV, chemical and long-term heat resistance. When printed with Stratasys SR-30 industrial support material, engineers can print parts with unrestricted geometries and ± 0.2 mm dimensional accuracy. Initially available in black, ASA will also be available in red and white.

Other end-use parts possible with ASA include industrial machine covers, outdoor signage and even replacement parts for agriculture applications, thanks to high-performance properties including:

  • 96 degrees C heat deflection
  • 2,167 MPA tensile modulus
  • 49 MPA tensile strength
  • ±0.007 inches (0.2 mm) printed part dimensional accuracy (with METHOD X)

MakerBot, founded in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2009, strives to redefine the standards for 3D printing for reliability, accessibility, precision and ease of use. With more than 20 global innovation centers and printers in more than 7,000 schools across the U.S., MakerBot is tailoring its new materials and machines to revolutionize manufacturing. The accuracy of its new materials ensures engineers are printing production-grade parts at significantly lower costs than with traditional manufacturing processes.

“We are committed to adding a wide range of materials to the METHOD platform to support the different needs of our customers and their applications,” said MakerBot CEO Nadav Goshen. “The METHOD X Circulating Heated Chamber allows engineers to produce strong and durable parts with industrial-grade materials. We believe that these materials can deliver high-performing mechanical properties that will enable companies to develop better products.”

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