Materials

Polymaker qualifies industrial polycarbonate materials for MakerBot LABS’ METHOD X 3D printer

3D printing material provider Polymaker has qualified three polycarbonate (PC) materials for Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot LABS, available to print on its METHOD X 3D printer.

The PCs, namely Polymaker PC-PBT, PolyMax PC-FR, and PolyLite PC, can be printed with MakerBot LABS’ Experimental Extruder. Bringing the METHOD’s portfolio of materials to nine, the new additions aim to help METHOD X users exploit the strong mechanical and thermal properties of PC while reducing issues such as warping and curling.

“Polycarbonate is often the choice for parts that function in demanding applications,” said Xiaofan Luo, president of Polymaker. “Its mechanical properties, flame retardance, and chemical resistance also allow engineers to push the boundaries of their 3D printed parts and experiment with new geometries.”

Polymaker PC materials now available for MakerBot LABS for METHOD. Photo via Business Wire.

Polycarbonate in AM

Often used for functional prototyping and end-use parts in the production of automotive components, protective gear, and medical device components, PC materials possess a unique balance of toughness, good light transmission, and high heat and electrical resistance.

However, PC can be challenging to print due to its tendency to contract if cooled too quickly, which can cause warping and shrinkage of the printed part, problems that typically occur when used with conventional desktop 3D printers. A critical factor when printing PC is controlling the ambient temperature of the material, for example through using a heated chamber.

MakerBot’s METHOD X 3D printer has a heated chamber that reaches up to 110 degrees celsius, letting the parts cool down gradually to avoid warping and curling.

“Anyone who is serious about printing polycarbonate knows that a heated chamber is essential for printing large and strong complex parts,” continued Luo. “METHOD is bringing industrial capabilities to a desktop machine, and we think its users will really benefit from the material properties our PC range offers.”

The METHOD's heated chamber allows users to create products with better mechanical and thermal properties than previous iterations. Photo via Makerbot.
The desktop 3D printer’s heated chamber allows users to create products with better mechanical and thermal properties than previous iterations. Photo via Makerbot.

The materials

The first of the newly qualified PC materials from Polymaker is Polymaker PC-PBT, a polymer blend which combines the good chemical resistance of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) with the strength and toughness of polycarbonate.PC-PBT offers better resistance to chemicals in comparison to PC resins and PC-ABS compounds, making it suitable for applications involving fuels, oils, or lubricants.

PC-PBT also performs well when in contact with hydrocarbon-based chemicals, and can operate at sub-zero temperatures, maintaining toughness and natural ductile fracture behavior.

PolyMax PC-FR is a flame retardant polycarbonate material which meets the UL-94 V0 fire safety standard. The material is ideal for automotive, railway, and aerospace applications due to its toughness, strength, and heat resistance.

The third qualified material is PolyLite PC, produced using a polycarbonate resin engineered explicitly for 3D printing. Demonstrating a high modulus, it is suitable for applications requiring stiffness and light diffusion, such as outdoor light housings, and is available in a transparent color.

Polymaker recommends annealing the PC parts immediately after the printing process in order to strengthen them and release residual internal stress.

MakerBot METHOD 3D printer. Photo via MakerBot.
MakerBot METHOD 3D printer. Photo via MakerBot.

The METHOD 

Launched December 2018, the MakerBot METHOD was designed as a mid-way point between the industrial FDM and personal desktop market, described by MakerBot as the “the first performance 3D printer.”

Less than 12 months later, Makerbot launched the METHOD X, a new addition to the METHOD line of machines developed to fill a niche in the market between desktop and industrial systems.

“With its up to 110 degrees celsius heated chamber, METHOD is a powerful and unique 3D printer platform for printing advanced engineering materials,” said Johan-Till Broer, VP of product development at Makerbot. “The availability of Polymaker’s PC materials on METHOD allows engineers to print polycarbonate parts that they previously had to outsource to more expensive industrial 3D printers.”

Makerbot’s extruder also enables users to print with a wide variety of third-party materials on the METHOD as an open materials platform.

“We are seeing increased interest in industrial materials as engineers advance from simple prototyping to 3D printing end-use parts. We are thrilled that Polymaker has qualified its industrial range of PC materials for MakerBot LABS.”

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Featured image shows Polymaker PC materials now available for MakerBot LABS for METHOD. Photo via Business Wire.

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