Covestro creates more possibilities for 3D printing
Addressing current consumer trends
Without a doubt, 3D printing – also known as additive manufacturing – is perfectly suited to current consumer trends and demands. This fascinating technology makes it possible to design three-dimensional components on a computer and to then produce them layer by layer with a 3D printer using one of the various printing techniques available. This makes additive manufacturing a great solution for the quick development and production of highly complex, individualized parts.
Many industries have long since recognized the advantages of 3D printing processes and seek to integrate the technology into their value chains. One application that has already been well-established is rapid prototyping – the computer-aided, cost-effective production of models and prototypes. Rapid prototyping is by no means the end of the road though. Companies around the world are now looking to use 3D printing in large-scale serial production – a step that would change the world of industrial manufacturing as we know it.
Challenges to overcome
Until recently, however, this fundamental next step into series production was held up due to factors such as poor efficiency and the lack of suitable print materials. The latter can be regarded as the technology’s bottleneck at the moment: while some 3,000 materials are available for established mass production technologies, just around 30 are suitable for 3D printing. And only one of those 30 – polyamide – is already used to a considerable degree in series production. Due to this lack of variety, it is not always possible to fine-tune the physical and aesthetic properties of the end product so that they exactly match the desired result.