3D printing or additive manufacturing is the process where computer-created design is used to fabricate a 3-dimensional object layer-by-layer. Over time, 3D printing technology has gained immense recognition and has expanded widely into industrial sectors. The technology is quite fast and efficient.
Not just the 3D technology but the 3D printing materials play a vital role. These are used across a range of industries such as healthcare, education, aerospace, construction, automotive, robotics, and manufacturing. PEEK and ULTEM materials are perfect examples of 3D printing materials.
What is ULTEM 3D Printing?
ULTEM is better known by its chemical name Polyetherimide or PEI, due to its chemical stability and adhesive properties.
Developed in the 1980s at General Electric’s Plastics Division by Joseph Wirth, ULTEM was later acquired by SABIC in 2007. Even though, its impact strength and useable temperature are low still it is significantly cheaper compared to other materials such as PEEK. While maintaining high dimensional stability, it is its ease of shaping up that makes it a widely used material in the 3D printing industry. ULTEM shares several benefits and is used as bed material on a few FFF/FDM printers. FDM or Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is one of the most variable additive technologies and works well with different thermoplastic materials such as ABS, ASA, and ULTEM. These FDM materials are accurate, genuine, and offer repeatable results.
ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene):
ABS is considered a reliable resin, due to its versatile nature. Has a low production cost and is conventionally used for injection molding applications.
ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate):
ASA is a synthetic amorphous thermoplastic with high weather and UV resistance. It is usually used as a substitute for ABS. Works well for outdoor applications, functional parts of automotive applications, electronics, material extrusion printing, and more.
But the most prominent name in FDM is ULTEM. It is an ultra-polymer part of the PEI thermoplastic family. The two ULTEM blends, ULTEM 9085 and ULTEM 1010 are result-oriented plastics and are considered for very demanding applications as well as for production tooling material for composite tooling.
- Tensile strength is 15,200 psi
- Flexural modulus is 480,000 psi
- Highly heat resistant
- High dielectric strength
- Retains its physical properties at high temperatures (even at 170°C)
- Can be assembled with conventional metal working tools.
ULTEM FILAMENTS FEATURES
The family of ULTEM has two amazing engineering materials:
- ULTEM 9085
- ULTEM 1010
Read ahead to know more about two ULTEM material types and the features of each ULTEM filament.
ULTEM 9085 FILAMENT
Material with lower flexural strength, adaptable and strong. It can be shaped easily while maintaining high dimensional stability.
- Mechanical strength and impact resistance
ULTEM 9085 filament has high mechanical strength. It is resistant to impact as its impact strength is approximately 650J/m for a sample without a notch whereas 88J/m for the notched sample. The tensile strength is 70 MPa and has a high strength-to-weight ratio.
- High-temperature resistance
The thermal resistance of ULTEM material is quite high even if it reaches 180⁰C. Usage of suitable additives increases the temperature at which the material maintains its mechanical properties. Perfect for applications where resistance against high temperature is required.
- Highly resistant to chemicals
ULTEM 9085 has chemical resistance against different solvent types (both synthetic and natural), oils as well as other chemicals. Moreover, it maintains the required strength throughout the process.
- Safe for the environment as well as for users
Certified for aircraft components. ULTEM 9085 is FST compliant. During combustion, no vapors or toxic fumes are emitted. Furthermore, it is weatherproof and does not adversely affect the environment when it comes in contact with soil.
- Excellent strength and heat resistant
One of the sturdy materials in the FDM thermoplastic family that offers high-performance, thermal stability, and the potential to withstand steam autoclaving.
- Tensile strength
64 MPa, 9300 psi
Certified for medical usage as well as certified with ISO 10993/USP and NSF 51 (the only FDM material with NSF 51 food contact certification) proves it to be biocompatible and approved for food contact.
Perfect for medical, aerospace, automotive, and food production industries.
ULTEM 1010 vs ULTEM 9085
ULTEM 9085 makes a perfect choice for components that require both strength and flexibility whereas when chemical resistance is required ULTEM 1010 wins the race.
ULTEM Materials High-Performance Applications
Many companies have given up parts that were previously made of steel or metal alloys like magnesium or aluminum. Below are a few ULTEM high-performance thermoplastic applications where ULTEM 3D printing has replaced parts as they needed high temperature.
ULTEM materials have high strength and thermal stability. Moreover, are significantly more lightweight than metal parts made from aluminum. These characteristics make it one of the only polymers used in aerospace settings such as ducts, clips, customized tools, and semi-structural components.
As it has dielectric qualities and is resistant to greases, oils, lubricants, solvents, and high temperatures, it is perfectly suitable for combustion engine vehicles as well as for electric vehicles. Moreover, ULTEM can make electric vehicles lighter and more economical by replacing metal components.
ULTEM is hydrolysis resistant, non-hygroscopic, absorbs minimal moisture, and can maintain 100% of tensile strength after 2000 cycles.
ULTEM material possesses excellent electrical properties and is resistant to heat. These features make it appropriate for electronic components such as switches, connectors, electronic chips, capacitors, electrical circuit boards, and capacitors.
Due to its high level of durability, it is used for medical tools like surgical guides and custom trays that can combat steam autoclaving and it is sterilizable.
Food Production Industries
Due to its heat-resistant property, ULTEM is profusely used in the manufacturing of baking sheets, patterns, microwavable bowls, food trays, dies, and fixtures
What makes ULTEM material different is its high performance and ability to withstand repeated cycles in humid and extreme environments.