Although we’ve been seeing an increase in filament types ranging from those that test the limits of polymer properties for extreme environments to those that are made out of recycled materials, some of the more significant developments have been in creating better versions of existing filaments
that are likely to be used extensively on a day-to-day basis by a large amount of users.
Among other common thermoplastic qualities that filament manufacturers have been actively looking into include improving upon elasticity. In addition to enabling product developers to have more accurate prototypes for rubber-like products, filaments with greater elastic properties have allowed users to create added features on their existing 3D prints including handles or seals...which ultimately make the product feel and perform more polished.
Today, the German RepRap GmbH, which is located in Feldkirchen near Munich, has announced they they are releasing their new TPU 93 filament in an effort to further open up entirely new possibilities in 3D printing.
The new material, which consists of thermoplastic polyurethane, is designed to be used for products including cable sheathing or as a coating for soft-touch surfaces on vehicle interiors. While the material has a soft feel to it, it is actually a very tough filament; in addition to being both UV and ozone resistant, it is also weatherproof and abrasion-resistant.
During material measurement tests according to DIN EN ISO 527, the filament achieved a 500% stretch at breaking point, with a Shore hardness of 93. Not only does this prove that the TPU 93 is one of the most flexible filaments on the market, but it also makes it more resistant to oils and greases than TPE and more elastic than soft PLA. Among other applications where these material properties could really shine include medical technology applications.
As for where the filament can be used, TPU 93 was optimized for processing in most desktop 3D printers and offers excellent flow characteristics as well as an easy filament feed. The material can be processed at 190–215°C without a heated build platform.
Needless to say, incorporating filaments such as TPU 93 into existing 3D print designs is one of the best ways of convincing others what’s possible with 3D printing technology. While material differences in traditionally manufactured products (such as a rubber grip) may be subtle, they can make all the difference in making a product feel ‘usable’ to the consumer.