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3D Printing Goes Smooth and Flexible with New TPU

Image courtesy of Markforged Smooth TPU 95A
The rubber-like material from Markforged enables manufacturers to print flexible, production-quality parts at point of need.

Markforged, creator of the Digital Forge integrated metal and carbon-fiber additive manufacturing platform, has added Smooth TPU 95A to its portfolio of 3D-printing materials. The new, rubber-like material provides manufacturers with an efficient way to make high-quality, flexible parts easily and reliably on demand in low-to-medium volumes.

With the introduction of Smooth TPU 95A, Markforged now offers manufacturers the increased versatility to make customized, flexible parts with high geometric fidelity, which is critical in creating fine-feature details such as the ridges on high precision drive belts or cutouts for complex bushings. Flexible parts can be produced additively for design validation, production line tooling, specialty production, aftermarket spares, and replacement parts. Smooth TPU 95A has uses in a variety of industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer products, electronics, energy, industrial equipment, and more.

On-demand parts with stunning surface finish

“Following the launch of Precise PLA earlier this year, Markforged is once again extending the capabilities of the Digital Forge with the introduction of Smooth TPU 95A, and the new ability to reliably and easily print high-quality, flexible parts on demand with stunning surface finish,” said Shai Terem, Markforged President and CEO. “The launch of our new material represents yet another step forward in our commitment to innovation that lives up to the Markforged brand promise of extreme precision and high quality on a simple-to-use platform.”

Flexible materials are finicky to print, frequently causing jams and clogs. Consequently, few, if any, 3D-printing systems can produce viable end-use parts with the consistency and mechanical properties required for production. Markforged’s platform is designed to overcome these challenges through the synchronous workings of the company's hardware, software, and materials to deliver a consistent and reliable TPU printing experience.

Improving veterans' quality of life

The Assistive Technology Team at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System is introducing Smooth TPU 95A into its practice as a way to innovate new ways to improve the lives of veterans. “We have a long history of relying on Markforged technology in our clinic settings. Between the reliability of the printers and the easy-to-use Eiger interface, we are able to collaborate with medical professionals and veterans to move through design iterations quickly and deliver a high-quality solution faster that truly helps our patients,” said Brian Burkhardt, Central Virginia VA Health Care System Clinical Rehabilitation Engineer. “With Smooth TPU 95A, we are able to create parts in a material that is a better fit for our patients and their needs, allowing us to do things we couldn’t do before. Whether we are working on a prosthetic or stylus holder, the flexible nature of this new material gives us more capabilities to provide an elegant solution for our patients, making their lives easier.”

The stylus holder, designed as a wrist strap with a slot to help veterans with limited hand dexterity to securely hold a writing implement, stylus, or similar device is a design that takes advantage of the benefits of Smooth TPU 95A. Prior to utilizing the material on the Markforged printers, the team had trouble printing models that met its quality standards. The capability to print with Smooth TPU 95A enabled the team to move the project forward quickly and efficiently, validating the design, then moving into custom production where they could tailor a unique design for each individual.

Smooth TPU 95A is available today and is compatible with the Gen 2 Mark Two and Onyx Pro printers. The new material is also compatible with the X7 (Gen 2) printers that are equipped with the latest A3648 extruder available in Q4 of this year. A webinar on the new material is scheduled for Oct. 4, 2022, at 10 a.m. Eastern.

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