New 3D-printing material exhibits thermoplastic behaviors, rivals injection molding

3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC) introduced today its first photopolymer for additive manufacturing that, the company said, exhibits thermoplastic behaviors, combining the speed, accuracy, strength and durability previously only associated with injection molding output. The Figure 4 Production Black 10 (PRO-BLK 10) material enables manufacturers to directly produce end-use plastic parts without tooling. Parts can be produced the same day versus weeks required with conventional tool-based approaches, said 3D Systems in a news release.

Automotive dashboard vent produced with 3D Systems’ Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10 material
Automotive dashboard vent made with 3D Systems’ new photopolymer,
Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10.

Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10 works with a simple isopropyl alcohol wash and does not require a secondary thermal post-cure process, which significantly improves throughput yield and significantly reduces the extensive solvent cleaning cycles needed with other technologies. 

In customer testing, 3D Systems reported that using the Figure 4 system and new production black material delivered a part in hand on average up to four times faster (including print and cure time) compared with customers' existing 3D production systems.

Chris Nicoll, Prototype Lab Manager at D&K Engineering (San Diego, CA), a product design and contract manufacturer, is one of several customers that have already incorporated Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10 into their production workflows. "One thing we're really excited about is the capability to produce complex, fine details on parts without tooling," said Nicoll. "We created several threaded parts in the same print with a variety of dimensions and each one is perfect. I'm excited about how the new Figure 4 production black material along with our Figure 4 modular printer will help us provide production parts to our customers more quickly. With the enhanced speed, we'll also be able to take on more projects, which will help us grow our business."

In addition to the new Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10, 3D Systems is also announcing four more Figure 4 materials:

  • Figure 4 EGGSHELL-AMB 10: A process-optimized material for the production of sacrificial tooling for casting true silicone components.
  • Figure 4 HI TEMP 300-AMB: Ultra-high temperature (300°C) rigid plastic suitable for production applications such as high temperature component testing and stators and motor enclosures. 
  • Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 20: Durable, flexible, high-impact, fatigue-resistant material with long-term environmental stability for functional assemblies and prototypes, such as automotive styling parts, consumer goods and electronic components, snap-fit assemblies, containers and enclosures. 
  • Figure 4 RUBBER-BLK 10: High-tear strength, malleable material designed for prototyping hard, rubber-like parts such as grips, handles and couplings.

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