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SABIC releases THERMOCOMP AM materials in Europe for LFAM

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SABIC introduced to the European market a family of high-performance THERMOCOMP AM compounds to address the unique requirements of large format additive manufacturing. Here at Formnext 2017 the company is exhibiting these eight new compounds, developed for use in large-format pellet-fed extruders. Print parameters and mechanical property data for the materials – developed by SABIC using test specimens printed on the company’s in-house BAAM printer – are available to aid customers in expediting material selection and optimizing processing conditions. Because they are reinforced with carbon or glass fibers for added strength, the new THERMOCOMP AM compounds can be used for demanding applications in the tooling, aerospace, automotive and defense industries.

“Large format additive manufacturing is opening up tremendous new opportunities for producing large, complex parts with speed and precision,” said Stephanie Gathman, director, Emerging Applications, SABIC. “We are committed to providing the advanced material solutions customers need to win. Beyond innovative material development, SABIC also supports customers with world-class processing, design and testing capabilities at our U.S. Center of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. These resources help customers accelerate application development for large printed parts.”

Based on four SABIC resins

SABIC’s first eight reinforced THERMOCOMP AM compounds for large format additive manufacturing are based on four of the company’s amorphous resins: acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), polyphenylene ether (PPE), polycarbonate (PC) and polyetherimide (PEI). These resins exhibit good creep behavior versus semi-crystalline resins, and reduced deformation under constant pressure.

Further, these materials exhibit lower shrinkage during cooling, which means greater dimensional stability and less thermal expansion during part use.

  • ABS-based compounds provide ease of processing, low warpage and good print surface quality, making them good candidate materials for a broad range of applications and tooling, including thermoforming and vacuum forming.
  • PPE-based compounds offer lower thermal expansion, outstanding hydrolytic stability, a higher strength-to-weight ratio and higher temperature performance compared to ABS.
  • PC-based compounds deliver higher stiffness, higher temperature performance and higher throughput compared to ABS and PPE, as well as excellent ductility and a smooth surface finish.
  • PEI-based compounds, developed from SABIC’s inherently flame-retardant ULTEM resins, provide low thermal expansion, high temperature performance, an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, high modulus and low creep.

Each of the THERMOCOMP AM materials is reinforced with carbon or glass fiber, depending on the degree of stiffness and dimensional stability required.

Expanding materials portfolio

“As adoption of large format additive manufacturing increases, SABIC plans to expand our THERMOCOMP AM portfolio and other material offerings to meet evolving customer needs,” said Joshua Chiaw, director, LNP Compounds and Copolymers, SABIC. “We have a wide array of thermoplastic resins, fillers and reinforcements available to us. For instance, to meet industry requirements for materials with higher chemical resistance and stiffness, we are currently evaluating new large format processes and compounds containing semi-crystalline resins such as PBT, PA, PPS and PEEK.”

SABIC is showcasing at Formnext a section of a yacht hull from Livrea Yacht that was printed on the company’s BAAM machine in its Center of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing in Pittsfield. The hull is a result of a collaborative design effort between SABIC, Livrea Yacht and 3D design and engineering software provider, Autodesk. Using Autodesk Fusion 360 design software and SABIC’s processing expertise on the BAAM equipment, the three companies selected two materials from the THERMOCOMP AM portfolio: a carbon fiber-reinforced PPE compound for the hull’s outer layer, and a carbon fiber-reinforced PEI for the inner lattice support structure.

“The process of using large-format additive manufacturing enabled Livrea Yacht to eliminate the need for molds and prototyping, which can be costly and inefficient,” said Mike Geyer, director of Evangelism and Emerging Technology at Autodesk. “The 3D printed hull is lighter and stronger, and can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost and in half the time, giving Livrea Yacht a competitive breakthrough that would not be possible with traditional fabrication. We are entering a very exciting time for complex, high-speed additive manufacturing.”

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Anthony Lowder

Anthony has been following the industry since 2010. He works with the editorial team and is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing digital content on our international website. As well as following the tech landscape, he is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and music producer.

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