Jabil Inc. (NYSE: JBL) introduced PLA 3110P, a novel powder based on a renewably sourced biomaterial that offers a bio-based alternative to petrochemical-based powders, such as Nylon-12 (PA 12). Developed in collaboration with NatureWorks, the leading manufacturer of polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymers, the new Jabil PLA 3110P material is made with NatureWorks Ingeo PLA and leverages Jabil’s “beaker to box” material innovations to deliver the first-ever PLA-based powder optimized for powder-bed fusion technologies.
“Breakthroughs in material innovations are being driven by the need for better-performing polymers,” said Luke Rodgers, senior director of R&D for additive manufacturing at Jabil. “We applied advanced morphology control to produce this sustainable and bio-based powder based on NatureWorks’ Ingeo biopolymer. Together, we are enabling an entirely new class of PLA material for the growing ecosystem of open additive manufacturing platforms.”
Jabil and NatureWorks collaborated to create, test, and validate Jabil PLA 3110P powder by combining NatureWorks’ expertise in PLA technologies with Jabil’s experience in developing polymer formulations, novel compounds, and material system integration. As a result, the new engineered material can advance sustainability initiatives while providing a low-carbon alternative to nylon-based materials.
“We are excited to join Jabil in launching the first Ingeo-based powder for open selective laser sintering (SLS) printing platforms,” said Salvador Ortega, global industry manager for NatureWorks. “Our Ingeo material is a lower-cost alternative with a carbon footprint that is 89% smaller than PA 12, which makes it well suited for a wide variety of additive manufacturing applications.”
According to VoxelMatters Research data, the market for polymer powder materials was worth nearly $250 million in 2021 and nylons (PA12 and PA6 and others, including composites) represented about two-thirds of those revenues (about 70%). With the launch of the new Jabil PLA 3110P material, users will now have more material choices for making prototypes as well as manufacturing brackets, jigs, fixtures, and tooling. Moreover, the new PLA powder is an eco-friendly option for producing the precision geometries needed for thermoforming and compression molds, including custom dental impressions.
Jabil continually applies polymer science advancements to elevate commodity resins with value-added attributes. Over the past two years, Jabil has introduced patent-pending materials, including PA 0600, which provides the high strength and stiffness associated with Delrin® or alternative POM materials without the risk of exposure to formaldehyde emissions when the material is overheated. In 2022, Jabil released the award-winning PK 5000, which features high-impact strength, high abrasion resistance, and improved elongation over other nylon materials. The polyketone resin used to make PK 5000 is an eco-friendly, low-carbon material made from carbon monoxide, which can further reduce carbon footprints.
In addition to advancements in materials, Jabil continues to extend its global additive manufacturing platforms and solutions to complement the company’s world-class manufacturing capabilities. Jabil has deployed hundreds of 3D printers — from desktop models to highly sophisticated industrial systems — to address a vast range of prototyping, tooling, and serial production demands.