Specialty chemicals and advanced materials company, Solvay has announced a partnership with Aerosint to support the development an economically viable powder bed printing process for high-performance polymers.
The research collaboration aims to open up the capabilities of additive manufacturing for engineering-grade polymers such as Solvay’s KetaSpire polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and Ryton polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) in new demanding applications.
Solvay has been working with the Belgian start-up for over two years, lending its material and process expertise to the advancement of its selective powder deposition system that enables full 3-dimensional control over material placement in powder bed fusion processes for multi-material printing.
“SLS machines that can process high-temperature-polymers are carefully designed and assembled with sophisticated and expensive components. However, at present, there is a significant operating cost disadvantage during the build, which is the excessive waste of up to 90 percent of ‘used-but-unfused’ powder,” said Edouard Moens, managing director Aerosint. “Our patented spatially-selective, multiple-powder deposition system under development incorporates a non-fusible support material in each layer where expensive high-performance polymers are not required, thereby reducing material waste to very low levels.”
The news builds on Solvay’s growing portfolio of AM specific materials and solutions including industrial and medical-grade filaments and e-commerce platform, supported by a dedicated AM facility in Alpharetta, Georgia.
“As with all innovative, ground-breaking technologies there are many challenges to overcome. One of them is to develop and fully optimize high-performance AM polymer powders for use at high temperatures alongside non-fusible materials in a multi-powder deposition process,” says Brian Alexander, Global Product and Application Manager for Additive Manufacturing at Solvay’s Specialty Polymers global business unit. “Not only will this technology make 3D printing of high-performance polymers more affordable, it also will open up its enormous potential to become a competitive industrial process for AM system manufacturers in the medical, aerospace and automotive sectors.”