Forward AM and Photocentric launch joint portfolio of 3D printing visible light photopolymers

BASF’s 3D printing arm Forward AM, and materials and systems manufacturer Photocentric have launched a joint portfolio of polymers called ‘Ultracur3D Powered by Photocentric.’

Developed as part of an ongoing strategic partnership between Photocentric and Forward AM, the new resins are custom-engineered to work with Photocentric’s LCD systems. The initial line of ten visible light photopolymers will be cooperatively marketed by the firms with the aim of furthering the “industrialization of additive manufacturing.”

“We believe the combination of the expertise gained through decades of BASF research into 3D printing materials, our unique material portfolio, and Photocentric’s remarkable printer technology, genuinely has potential to enable cost-competitive parts printing,” said François Minec, Managing Director of BASF 3D Printing Solutions. “This makes mass-manufacturing of functional end-use parts a reality,” 

“The new chemistries we have harnessed for our product offering enable us to meet our customers’ very high mechanical performance demands and realize their mass scale applications.” 

The new line of 3D printing materials will be specifically designed to work with Photocentric's daylight curing process. Image via Forward AM.
The new line of 3D printing materials will be specifically designed to work with Photocentric’s daylight curing process. Image via Forward AM.

Forward AM’s expanding 3D printing portfolio 

BASF’s 3D printing subsidiary Forward AM was set up in 2017 to expand the company’s additive manufacturing business. Since then, BASF has rapidly added to its portfolio of 3D printing materials via a series of acquisitions and partnerships. 

Less than a month after Forward AM was founded, BASF acquired Dutch filament producer Innofil3D, incorporating the firm’s PLA, PET, and ABS resins into its existing range. Later in 2017, BASF went further, acquiring Solvay’s global polyamide business, and material companies Advanc3D Materials and Setup Performance.

Since 2018, the company has embarked on a strategy of building its network of investments and collaborations to produce new 3D printing materials. Working with Texas-based 3D printer provider Essentium, BASF created a new line of “Ultrafuse” filaments, as well as establishing a wider distribution network. Recent partnerships with Prismlab and Shapeways have also confirmed BASF’s ambition to continually grow the reach of its material portfolio.  

Photocentric began its own strategic alliance with BASF in 2018, with the aim of combining their resources to advance the mass manufacturing of 3D printed parts. BASF introduced its first two custom-made materials for Photocentric’s systems, BASF ST45B and FL300W at Formnext 2019. Following the introduction of their joint polymer portfolio, the companies have now announced a “deepening” of their business relationship. 

BASF's ST45B 3D printing material (pictured) was optimized for use with Photocentric's systems in 2019. Image via Forward AM.
BASF’s ST45B 3D printing material (pictured) was optimized for use with Photocentric’s systems in 2019. Photo via Forward AM.

The Ultracur3D Powered by Photocentric range

Photocentric and Forward AM’s newly-announced range of photopolymers was developed in close collaboration and has been hailed as a “new milestone” in their strategic partnership. During research and development, the firms combined their 3D printing expertise to optimize the resins for the printing parameters of Photocentric’s systems.  

Photocentric’s patented LCD 3D printing process, featured within its latest LC Maximus system, is typically utilized within the industrial and medical industries. According to Sally Tipping, Sales Director of Photocentric, the release of the Powered by Photocentric range could enable its customers to utilize its 3D printers more efficiently. 

“This extended range of high performance materials now allows our customers to take full advantage of the large build volume, speed and reliability of Photocentric printers, to move towards the cost-effective, large-scale production of end-use parts,” said Tipping. 

“Ultracur3D EPD 1006 Powered by Photocentric” will be the first in an initial series of ten 3D printing photopolymers that the companies will develop and market together. The new line of photopolymer resins are reported to be cost-effective, while offering a high level of mechanical performance for producing “high-resolution” end-use parts. 

The companies believe their 3D printing materials to be well-suited to applications in a wide variety of industries, potentially enabling mass-manufacturing in new areas. A “progressive extension” of the joint photopolymer range is also planned in future, with each material set to be custom-designed for Photocentric’s daylight-curing process.

Moving forwards, the newly-launched line of 3D printing polymers is said to be mutually beneficial to both companies. Forward AM has broadened its portfolio, and will now offer photopolymers that are specifically developed for Photocentric’s 3D printers. Photocentric will provide a new line of compatible Ultracur3D EPD 1006 polymer resins to its customers. 

“Photocentric is deepening its partnership with BASF to facilitate the custom mass manufacture of components in a wide variety of industries,” said Paul Holt, Managing Director of Photocentric. “Together we have created a unique combination of software, hardware and chemistry that removes obstacles to using additive manufacturing in mass production.”

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Featured image shows a Forward AM researcher holding a part produced using BASF’s ST45B 3D printing material. Image via Forward AM.