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PPS powder by LEHVOSS compliant with EN 45545 for flame retardancy

The flame-retardant 3D printing material is suitable for railway, aircraft and other transport applications

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Chemical company LEHVOSS is aiming to address a gap in the market for laser sintering materials with the introduction of its new LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK powder. The material, developed in cooperation with Siemens Mobility, meets European railways standards for fire safety (EN 45545) while also remaining accessible in terms of cost. According to the company, its new powder is at the same price level as conventional polyamide powders for SLS.

Flame retardancy is a top priority in transport industries such as rail; it is especially important for trains that travel underground. The reasons are obvious: if a fire breaks out in an underground train, passengers and operators have limited options for quick escape from fire and smoke. Fire protection standards are therefore highest for any component that is to be used on trains that travel primarily underground or pass through tunnels. However, there are limited plastic materials—broadly speaking—that meet the standards both for fire retardancy and smoke toxicity and there are even fewer available for 3D printing.

LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK EN 45545

To date, high-performance thermoplastic filaments, like PEI, PEEK and PEKK, have been among the few options for rail applications that require EN 45545 compliancy for trains operated underground. For laser sintering technology though, these types of materials are not particularly viable due to a few factors, including challenges in powderizing them and their high temperature requirements, which limit what systems can process them and result in high powder refresh rates (resulting in greater material waste and cost).  

Dr. Marcus Rechberger, an expert in plastic powders at LEHVOSS, elaborates on the challenges of using these materials for laser sintering further, saying: “It is therefore not surprising that the price of such powders suggests a life-extending drug rather than a material that offers the user a competitive advantage in difficult markets.” In a word: these materials, while technically possible to produce, aren’t economically viable. 

Seeking an alternative solution, LEHVOSS and Siemens Mobility have developed LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK, a material based on the inherently flame retardant polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). LEHVOSS specifies that the new SLS powder has been modified because PPS itself is not up the standards of the highest hazard classes of EN 45545 regulations. Notably, the material offers good printability on SLS systems (compatible with both CO2 lasers and fiber lasers) and is available at a more modest price point than the aforementioned options. 

“The PPS powder offers a comfortable process window at part bed temperatures of around 250 °C,” LEHVOSS says of the new powder’s printing properties. “The inherently high flowability of PPS supports the pressure-free sintering of the powder into dense components during laser sintering.” 3D printed parts made from the powder are characterized by high strength and rigidity, as well as good resistance to moisture, temperature (with an HDT A of 196 °C) and chemicals (resistant to all known solvents up to 200 °C). Used LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK powder leftover after the printing process can also be recycled.

LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK is suitable for 3D printing components that meet EN 45545 standards, even for the highest hazard classes. Specifically, Siemens Mobility has a declaration of conformity certifying that printed parts made from the PPS-based powder meet the requirements of R1HL3, R7HL3 and R17HL3 sets according to DIN EN 45545-2 for rail applications. All that said, the material also has applications outside the rail industry and can be used to make components for aircraft and buses. 

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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