Additive manufacturing (3D Printing) is possible with nearly all commercial materials. It is an effective way to rapid-prototype high quality parts, create molds for investment casting or even produce finished goods. Modern additive manufacturing methods can produce parts with a similar quality to machined parts. They can also print shapes that would not be achievable by machining such as hollow parts with internal supports. Some popular materials include metals, ceramics, thermoplastics, silicones, and photocurable polymers.
Optimizing material properties for each specific application is a crucial step that ensures 3D printed parts will perform as intended. For many materials, this means that a great deal of formulation & materials characterization takes place before the base material is manufactured for commercial use.
Mixing comes into play at the lab / pilot scale and manufacturing scale for these highly customized materials. They can be a blend of polymers, rheology modifiers, adhesion promoters, binders, fillers, pigments, and other ingredients. To ensure that lab scale properties are accurate, all materials must be dispersed homogeneously in the sample, and bubbles / voids must be removed before testing. The same is true at the manufacturing scale.
*Packaging – In some cases, printers extrude material from cartridges or syringes. In these cases, it is recommended to fill with materials that have been de-aired using a system that does not introduce bubbles. Alternatively, post processing in the final package to remove bubbles & voids will prevent voids in printed parts. We can help with either approach.