Advanced Polymers

Advanced Polymers – much like its reference main category Advanced Materials – are intended by 3dpbm Research as all polymers (photopolymer, thermoplastics and thermosets) that display unique and advanced characteristics. The most typical advanced polymers used in 3D printing are PAEK family thermopolymers, available both as filaments and pellets for material extrusion technologies and as powders for PBF processes. These are materials that display unique characteristics in terms of strength as well as high-temperature and chemical resistance, making them suitable for metal replacement activities.

There are many producers and compounders of modified PEEK polymers in the world: companies and products include Lehmann & Voss (LUVOCOM), Victrex, SABIC, Solvay (KetaSpire) and Evonik (VESTAKEEP). Most of these companies also have made investments and hold significant stakes in the additive manufacturing industry.

Other thermoplastics that we consider Advanced Polymers include polyetherimide or PEI (usually referred to by its SABIC commercial name ULTEM) and, more recently, the family of polysulfones introduced for 3D printing mainly by Solvay. Polysulfones are a family of high-performance thermoplastics that in some applications can be used as an alternative to PAEK polymers or as a superior replacement for polycarbonates. Three polysulfones are used industrially, these are polysulfone (PSU), polyethersulfone (PES or PESU) and polyphenylene sulfone (PPSU).

But the Advanced Polymers category doesn’t refer only to thermoplastics. Because they are digital materials whose properties can be accurately fine-tuned, many photopolymers also fall into 3dpbm’s Advanced Polymers categorization. For example dielectric materials such as those developed by Fortify and Rogers Corporation, or highly durable materials that integrate thermosets such as those used in many high-speed photopolymerization processes. While we don’t usually include “standard” CFR and GFR composites among Advanced Polymers (as they have their own Composites category), other types of composites that integrate and digitally orient ceramic fibers or graphene or CNTs may in fact fall into this category.

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