Low(er)-cost laser sintering 3D printers are making their way onto the marketplace, so that small businesses can begin 3D printing tough prints the way that Shapeays has been able to for years. To accompany those machines, there needs to be an affordable place to purchase powder with which to 3D print. Soon, we’re likely to see a number of new companies offer their alternatives for name brand powder, including Germany’s Diamond Plastics, which has just released a Polypropylene material for laser sintering machines.
You may be familiar with Polypropylene as the little piece of plastic that makes up the flip-top lid of your Tic Tacs box. It’s also the material you’ll find making up a lot of microwave-safe plastic dishware, as it has a high melting point. This is also what makes it ideal for medical and lab equipment, because it can withstand the heat of autoclaves used to sterilize equipment. Diamond Plastics is now offering their own version of the material Laser PP CP 22 white.
According to Diamond Plastics’ Michael Putsch, Laser PP CP 22 white can be processed on all laser sintering machines and non-sintered powder is completely reusable for subsequent print jobs. He also suggests that parts printed with the material don’t warp, have high dimensional stability, and demonstrate high stiffness. The material also shows good chemical resistance for a number of applications. The maximum particle size of the powder is 90µm and it can be processed with layer thicknesses as fine as 100µm. Laser PP CP 22 white can be purchased from Diamond Plastics right now in 20kg cartons, but samples are also available at 10 kg.
The company also offers an HDPE powder for SLS, but there are likely to be other manufacturers that jump into the materials market. And, as new SLS machine makers and materials providers are only recently coming into the space, we’ll have to wait and see what customers say about the products before they can be endorsed.