Huntsman Corporation is highlighting its advances in additive manufacturing technology at the 2019 K show. It’s highlighting this with the launch of Iroprint materials. They are present in resin, powder, and filaments.
Created in close collaboration with key unnamed sportswear and footwear makers, the thermoplastic polyurethane material is simple to print with the added benefit of being flexible and soft.
“What we noticed is that this is a growing market, but there is a lack of the right materials for many applications,” says Stephane Peysson, global project manager, breakthrough innovation, additive manufacturing.
According to Peysson, the business has up to now been pushed by engineers “who great machines and take material off the shelf and hope it will print.”
Apart from that, most 3D printing materials presently available in the market are firm. But most of the consumer products require flexible stuff.
Created more than three years, the Ironprint stage involves Ironprint F filaments for fused filament invention and other extrusion-based technique. Iron R single-component fluid resins digital light and stereolithography processing. It also involves Iroprint P powders for high-pace sintering and careful laser sintering.
The idea here is that the material is specifically developed for printing and does print. It is not the same as some products that turn sticky and soft when liquefied by a printer.
“TPUs were created for injection molding, calendering, etc., and they work perfectly in those environments. But the tricky part is when you use them for 3D printers and they stick to the nozzle,” Said Peysson.
Also, the filaments provide a consistent extrusion diameter that is crucial for the quality of the end product. They are also important for doing away with print crashes.
It has been already experimented and applied by some brands, the product that was basically launched in a pre-K occasion in July. It has gotten the attention in the initial days of the show.
Peysson, says the main customers from China and Brazil already showed interest in the product. This can be utilized in different applications like bicycle grips, shoe soles, and rubber-replacement in small parts and fixtures.
“We’ve been busy dealing with inquiries from companies that are interested in using the materials. This includes printer companies that want to know more about what the range has to offer — as well as product designers in the footwear industry and beyond,” Peysson commented.
There are some interesting projects in the pipeline and Peysson anticipates Huntsman to extend manufacturing capacity. That’s for Ironprint and other materials in Germany and China.
“I cannot comment further on this, but I can say that we have asked our board for some investments in China and Europe,” he said. Additionally, Peysson anticipates more investments individuals, research, and equipment.
However, are consumer brands ready for huge-scale ED printing of components?
Peysson says that the technology has moved from prototyping to functional prototyping. This implies that the prototypes have every key aspect. They include flexibility, softness to make an end product.