Elastomeric SLS Material: Thermoplastic Polyurethane

September 26, 2013

A few months ago, Materialise unveiled a new powdered polymer for use in Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), thermoplastic polyurethane or TPU. The resin is an elastomeric alternative to the rigid nylon (PA) composites currently used in 3D printed SLS parts.

I have not yet found a data sheet for the TPU material, but until I see it for sale among other service providers, I have quite a bit of skepticism about it. Many thermoplastic elastomers have been released on the SLS market, and not many have had much staying power. The reason being that these elastomers were not up to engineering standards of a finished product.

In the past, the barrier to creating elastomers on a 3D printing apparatus, regardless of technology, is that it is difficult to form polymer chains between layers. The result is very good mechanical properties along the X and Y axis, but often times failure (rips and tears) along the Z axis.

In the video, I am very curious to see if they purposefully lined up the objects in order to avoid stress between the layers.

Regardless, it is always exciting to see new materials appear in the additive marketplace and it is only a matter of time before someone cracks the barrier of a performance grade elastomer.

Cheers for innovation. 

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