Green Polymer Additives
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3D Printing of Metals and Ceramics

3D Printing of Metals and Ceramics

We make 3D printing of metals and ceramics possible with innovative binder technology.

Sinterable metal or ceramic feedstock materials used in fused deposition modeling are usually employed in filament or granulated form depending on the 3D printing system. Similar to PIM feedstocks, these feedstock materials are highly filled thermoplastic binders containing usually more than 80 percent by weight metal or ceramic powder. The 3D printed green parts also go through post-processing steps similar to that of PIM to produce the full metal or ceramic part.

Fused deposition modeling via sinterable feedstock materials

The main applications of fused deposition modeling of sinterable metals and ceramics are rapid prototyping and small series production e.g. lot size between 1-200 parts.

Examples of metal and ceramic parts 3D printed with filaments based on Green Polymer Additives’ binder system:

Working with our 3D printing partners, a variety of metal and ceramic parts have been 3D printed

Metal and ceramic parts depicting green parts (left side) and sintered parts (right side)

PIM

While 3D printing has the potential to dramatically change how products are manufactured, it has not been more broadly implemented due to limitations in the variety of 3D printing materials as well as their high costs.

To further extend the material options available to the 3D printing industry, Emery Oleochemicals’ Green Polymer Additives Business Unit has developed novel additives and binders for 3D printing of sinterable metals and ceramics via fused deposition modeling. The successful development of such materials for 3D printing stems from more than 30 years of experience in developing additives and binders for the thermoplastic processing of sinterable metals and ceramics via Powder Injection Molding (PIM). The mixing of metal or ceramic powder with binder generates the feedstock.

PIM process

As a result of the versatility of Green Polymer Additives’ binder, it is widely used by PIM companies as well as adaptable for 3D printing of a variety of sinterable metals and ceramics. Together with well-established partners operating in the PIM and 3D printing sectors, Green Polymer Additives has developed a variety of binders and feedstocks for sinterable metals and ceramics.

Material

Metals

Stainless steel (e.g. 316L, 17-4 PH)

Carbonyl iron + master alloy

Titanium

Heavy metals

Cemented carbides

Ceramics

Alumina

Zirconia

Silicon Carbide

Silicon Nitride

Porcelain

Binder

Fused deposition modeling is the most widely used 3D printing technology due to its suitability for commercial and home use, as well as the ease of operation of the machines compared with other 3D printing technologies. The result is the increasing availability of new materials for fused deposition modeling, including sinterable metal and ceramic feedstock materials, which are an evolution of the conventional PIM feedstocks.

Since the process requirements for PIM and fused deposition modeling are significantly different, there is a need to adapt the 3D printing binder formulation to cater for differences in process such as:

  • Significantly lower applied pressure in 3D printing → need more flowable binder
  • Tool-less processing in 3D printing → need more binder consistency/hold up
  • Layerwise construction in 3D printing → binder for more interlayer adhesion
  • Part adhesion on 3D printer bed → binder to prevent warpage
Sustainability benefits

Support structures from feedstock can be ground in the green state and reused (same for sprue in PIM) ➔ No waste

100 percent powder is converted to the final part ➔ Sustainability

In contrast to other debinding systems such as catalytic and thermal systems, the solvent used for debinding can be recycled ➔ Low emission

Solvent debinding employed is at least 3 times faster than other debinding systems such as thermal systems or other solvent systems ➔ Quicker time to customer

Technical benefits

Simple technology ➔ User-friendliness

All sinterable powders possible ➔ Unlimited materials

Standard printers with a modified print head can be used ➔ Better accessibility

Support structures generated during printing can be easily removed ➔ Easy part handling

Standard PIM powders can be used because powder flow properties are not critical ➔ Low material requirements

Hollow parts possible, especially closed hollow parts ➔ Design freedom

Deep level of understanding of modifying polymer/ powder rheology with additives ➔ Expertise

Support from prototyping via fused deposition modeling to mass production via PIM with the same type of binder system ➔ Reliability

Technical attributes over other binder systems such as superior green/ brown part strength and lower shrinkage ➔ Better part integrity

Our offer

The vast array of benefits of our 3D printing technology firmly position out binder and feedstock systems as the right choice for versatile and tailored 3D printing solutions as follows:

  • Tailored binder formulation development for specific powders based on:
    • Powder size and shape
    • Powder production method (e.g. whether gas-atomized or water-atomized powder)
    • Powder composition (e.g. alumina, stainless steel, tungsten carbide, metal alloys, ceramic blends)
  • Filament or granule sampling for feasibility trials
  • Access to network of professional filament manufacturers and suppliers based on Green Polymer Additives’ binder system

Customizable solutions designed to meet customer-specific needs
Green Polymer Additives also offers customized solutions to meet customer-specific requirements for their 3D printing processes. Contact our product specialists for more information.

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