Stratasys develops new materials for FDM and PolyJet technologies

The mechanical properties of FDM Nylon 12CF allow engineers to explore the possible transition from traditional metal parts to 3D printed plastic composites

Stratasys has broadened its 3D printing materials offering, introducing FDM 12CF—a strong carbon fiber-filled thermoplastic material suitable for a range of metal replacement applications—and Agilus30, a family of high-durability materials that can withstand repeated flexing without tearing or deforming.

FDM Nylon 12CF is the first metal replacement composite material for Stratasys’s fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology. It is suitable for a variety of applications and can be used to produce prototype and end-use parts as well as strong, lightweight tooling at a layer thickness of 0.254 millimeters (0.010in).

The material incorporates 35% chopped carbon fiber by weight and provides the best stiffness-to-weight ratio of all Stratasys’s FDM thermoplastics. It meets the demands of functional performance testing in a number of industrial manufacturing sectors including automotive, aerospace, consumer goods and recreational goods.

FDM Nylon 12CF is expected to be of particular interest for the following use cases:

  • rapidly producing strong, lightweight and rigid components for functional prototyping, thus reducing product time-to-market;
  • making low-volume production parts with unique structural requirements, where high strength in one direction is required; and
  • producing manufacturing aids such as jigs and fixtures, where high material stiffness and strength is required and there is great benefit to the significant weight savings over metal tooling components.

Utah Trikes—a USA-based trike retailer—is an FDM Nylon 12CF beta customer and reports that the material has significantly cut its product development times. The combined exceptional strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio of the material has allowed the company to prototype almost every part of a trike in less than a fortnight, whereas previously would have taken over two months.   

Ashley Guy, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Utah Trikes, commented: ‘I no longer have to constrain my designs because of prototyping limitations. Now I can focus on designing better, more functional parts without worrying about how to shape the aluminum or how to lay up carbon fiber onto the molds. FDM Nylon 12CF parts can be 3D printed faster, with superior stiffness-to-weight performance and with better repeatability than […] we’ve seen [before].’

FDM Nylon 12CF is available for Stratasys’s Fortus 450mc production 3D Printer and is compatible with SR-110 soluble support. It requires an updated version of Insight software and a hardware upgrade.

The material is expected to start shipping in Q2 2017.

Agilus30 is a family of materials—comprising Agilus30 and Agilus30 Black—that has been developed for Stratasys’s PolyJet technology. It is aimed at those designers and engineers looking to simulate materials like rubber, allowing them to produce prototypes that can be freely flexed and bent yet afford exceptional accuracy and fine detailing.

Agilus30 is said to be ideal for the modeling of delicate parts that are pliable and robust, and that retain their form despite rough handling. It can also be combined with other materials to create a range of digital materials1 that have varying Shore A values, colors and shades.

Examples of applications benefitting from the use of Agilus30 include over-molding, soft-touch and living hinges, hoses, seals and gaskets as well as knobs, grips, pulls and handles. 

Agilus30 is available for Stratasys’s Objet260/350/500 Connex1/2/3 3D printers and is compatible with SUP706 soluble support.

Websites: www.stratasys.com and www.automationworld.com

1 A digital material is the result of combining two or three photopolymers in specific concentrations and microstructures to create a composite material with hybrid characteristics.