Chemicals company Henkel has signed a development agreement in cooperation with Boston-based 3D printing startup Fortify. Through the partnership, the companies will combine their expertise—materials development and Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM), respectively—to advance resin-based additive manufacturing.
Specifically, the partnership will leverage Henkel’s custom technology for producing durable, high-temperature and high-modulus resins and Fortify’s DCM platform, which will mix Henkel’s resins with reinforcing fibers to create stronger 3D printed parts. Notably, Fortify’s technology also integrates a novel magnetic system, which aligns the reinforcing fibers, improving the strength of the composite materials even more.
“This is a benchmark for the types of collaborations Henkel strives to cultivate,” said Ken Kisner, Innovation Lead for 3D printing at Henkel and founder of Molecule Corp., which was acquired by Henkel in May. “Our strong, data-driven approach to material innovation continues to unlock the power of additive manufacturing. Fortify is focused on delivering value in industries where part performance is mission critical. Together we’re making it happen.”
Joshua Martin, CEO and Co-Founder at Formnext, commented on the partnership, saying: “The Fortify platform enables our customers to leverage materials that weren’t conceivable, yet alone practical on other platforms. With Henkel’s assistance, we are pushing this technology forward and solving the customer problems we expected as well as discovering exciting new opportunities.”
The ability to reinforce 3D printing materials with fibers to optimize strength and durability has opened up a wealth of potential applications for Fortify’s DCM 3D printing technology. Among one of the more prominent application areas is the production of 3D printed injection mold tools. By leveraging Henkel’s printing materials and the DCM process, manufacturers can save time and money in the production of 3D printed inserts compared to more traditional metal tooling processes.
According to both companies, the performance and strength advantage offered by Fortify’s reinforced parts and Henkel’s high-temperature materials make their joint solution viable for such demanding applications.
“When prototyping or producing parts in small runs, tooling cost and time are major barriers,” explained Karlos Delos Reyes, Vice President of Applications and Co-Founder at Fortify. “With our 3D printed molds that utilize Henkel’s resin, we have proved the viability of these tools for low production runs. As we help injection molders reduce the expense and time involved with producing molds, they can quickly react to new opportunities.”
Fortify, which raised $10 million in a Series A funding round last July, will begin field beta testing its DCM 3D printers (with Henkel’s material) in spring 2020. The partners will not only explore the production of 3D printed injection molding tools, but will investigate other end-use application areas.
“We’re excited about the benefits Fortify’s technology can offer our industrial customers,” added Kisner. “As new applications are unearthed, our development team is working quickly to help qualify and validate them. We have a wide range of materials in our portfolio and we’re committed to leveraging our knowledge and technology, in partnership with customers and companies like Fortify, to accelerate the growth of additive manufacturing.”