Belgian specialty chemicals company Solvay launched its Additive Manufacturing Cup contest in August 2017, challenging university students around the globe to print complex parts in its KetaSpire polyetheretherketone (PEEK) filaments. Registration for the Additive Manufacturing Cup closed on 29 October, 2017, and there are 33 teams from universities in 13 countries participating, namely four in Asia Pacific, 19 in Europe and 10 in North America.
The contest's objective is to channel students’ creativity and thus help them progress additive manufacturing (AM). PEEK is one of the highest performing thermoplastic polymers and used for a range of medical and industrial applications, however it is also one of the most difficult to 3D print owing to an exceptionally high melting point of 343˚C.
Solvay’s KetaSpire filaments afford an excellent combination of chemical and mechanical resistance at continuous-use temperatures of up to 240˚C. Furthermore, they inherently possess high levels of electrical and insulation resistance as well as low flame retardancy and moisture.
The contest is split into two rounds. The first round commenced on November 6, 2017, and requires the 30 teams to replicate a simple CAD file for submission by January 14, 2018. The finalists of round 1 are to be announced on February 1, 2018.
The second round commences on February 5, 2018, and requires round 1 finalists to replicate a complex shape for submission by March 11, 2018. The overall winners are to be announced on March 22, 2018, and receive first, second and third prizes of 10,000, 5,000 and 3,000 EUR, respectively.
An international panel comprising Solvay’s polymer, design and AM specialists is to judge each team’s printed parts on their aesthetic qualities and mechanical stability.
‘3D printing is a remarkable manufacturing technology that is developing quickly,’ said Brian Alexander, additive manufacturing manager for Solvay’s specialty polymers global business unit. ‘It can deliver fully functional prototypes as well as cost-efficient single to small-volume applications much faster than traditional manufacturing. However, printing with the world’s best performing polymers remains a challenge. Solvay’s Additive Manufacturing Cup is to demonstrate that the time has come for this to change.’