Lubrizol x colorFabb: development of varioShoreTPU filament technology

Ohio-based chemicals and materials company Lubrizol 3D Printing Solutions, and colorFabb Netherlands-based 3D printing materials company have revealed the joint development of the novel varioShoreTPU materials. This joint development aims to enhance foaming capabilities and attend extra capabilities for additive manufacturing. varioShore is a product of Lubrizol’s ESTANE 3D thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) technology. Lubrizol claims that a distinct hardness range can be printed within a single 3D part by utilizing varioShoreTPU’s proprietary filament technology.

ESTANE 3D TPU technology offers lightweight and soft touch properties, and lower hardness in the range of 92 to 60 Shore A with the extra benefit of extending 1.4-1.6 times its original volume, says the company. The new 3D printing materials are the result of collaboration between Lubrizol and colorFabb on the next generation of varioShoreTPU with more colors and improved aesthetics in finished parts. This year, colorFabb launched two new generations of varioShoreTPU namely Anti-Bacterial varioShoreTPU and ESD varioShoreTPU. 

“With varioShoreTPU we offer a velvety matte, soft but tough, unique 3D print filament. By adding silver to the formulation, the varioShoreTPU is now also suitable for prosthetic and orthotic applications. 3D printing will change lives,” said Gijs Houdijk, head of AM at colorFabb.

varioshoreTPU 3D printing filament. Image via colorFabb.
varioshoreTPU 3D printing filament. Image via colorFabb.

Lubrizol’s industrial portfolio

Estane TRX TPU and BounCell-X, two polymer-based material alternatives for the footwear market, were announced by Lubrizol. Estane TRX TPU and BounCell-X were initially introduced at Chinaplas 2018, the plastics and rubber trade show in Shanghai, as sustainable material alternatives that provide cushion, outsole, and assembly processes for athletic footwear.

Furthermore, Ultimaker has three Lubrizol ESTANE 3D thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) materials for fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing, ESTANE 3D TPU F94A-055 OR HH PL, 3DP TPU 98A, and 3DP TPU F70D thermoplastics from Lubrizol. The filaments are intended to meet Ultimaker customers’ needs for plastics suitable for FFF applications such as industrial jigs and fixtures, prototypes, end-use parts, and flexible parts such as orthopedic insoles.

Elsewhere, Lubrizol revealed that its ESTANE 3D TPU M95A powder for 3D printing has passed ISO 10993-5 and 10993-10 skin sensitization and cytotoxicity tests. Lubrizol stated that the successful tests showed that the material, developed for use with HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology, can be used by product designers who are utilizing 3D printing for end-use applications which require skin contact. According to the company,  it will benefit applications such as footwear, prosthetic and orthotic devices, and electronic device wearables.

“Lubrizol 3D Printing Solutions provides state-of-the-art TPU chemistry that best fits the development of varioShoreTPU for a wide range of applications. Our strong partnership and market insights have allowed both companies to unlock the additive manufacturing (AM) segment with varioShoreTPU, a truly unique and differentiated solution,” said David Pascual, global 3DP marketing & commercial lead for Lubrizol. 

varioShoreTPU can be applied in different additive manufacturing applications like prosthetic and orthotic applications. Image via Lubrizol.
varioShoreTPU can be applied in different additive manufacturing applications like prosthetic and orthotic applications. Image via Lubrizol.

3D printing filaments

Recently, Spectrum Filaments, one of Europe’s largest 3D printing materials manufacturers in FDM / FFF technology, debuted eight new technical materials at the Formnext 2022. Composites of Kevlar (aramid fibers), PTFE (Teflon), carbon fibers, and glass fibers were among the materials. The package also included a high-temperature PPS AM230 material with a softening point (VICAT) of up to 236°C.

Previously, Materialise, a Belgian software and 3D printing service provider, announced the addition of the Ultrasint thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) 01 from German chemical company BASF to its portfolio of 3D printing materials. This novel material is intended for use with HP‘s new Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 5200 Series 3D printers. Materialise was reportedly the first company to make BASF’s TPU powder accessible via online platforms Materialise OnSite and i.materalise, as well as its offline prototyping and manufacturing services.

Elsewhere, Delft University of Technology researchers had created a method for 3D printing room temperature self-healing TPU (SH-TPU) utilizing fused deposition modeling (FDM). According to the researchers, the SH-TPU used in the study had less mechanical dependence on printing conditions than a 3D-printed commercial TPU, and it also had the added benefit of healing damages at room temperature.

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Feature image shows the use of varioShoreTPU in different additive manufacturing applications like prosthetic and orthotic applications. Image via Lubrizol.