Tethon 3D, a specialist in ceramic 3D printing, has partnered with additive manufacturing materials company Mechnano to develop a novel high-temperature, ESD-safe resin for use with SLA-based 3D printers.
Named C-lite, the photoresin can withstand temperatures of up to 225°C and uses Mechnano’s proprietary carbon nanotube (CNT) technology – MechT – to dissipate static. According to the firms, this is the 3D printing industry’s first high-temperature resin with ESD properties.
The partners expect C-lite to be in high demand for electronics-related applications in sectors such as electronics manufacturing, automotive, defense, and more.
“Our materials team integrated the MechT enabled E35A CNTs to create a high-temp ESD resin,” said Trent Allen, CEO of Tethon 3D. “The experts at Mechnano were very helpful and have a deep understanding of nanomaterial science and chemistry. We plan to formulate new composites by incorporating additional versions of MechT into our resins to improve mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties.”
Mechnano and MechT technology
Based in Arizona, USA, Mechnano is a startup focused on integrating CNTs into 3D printing resins. Following a stealth launch in April of this year, the firm unveiled its MechT technology for the first time, a process used to enhance existing resins with static-dissipative properties, improved impact resistance, tear resistance, and even tensile performance. The technology has been in R&D for over a decade and is protected by more than 100 issued and pending patents.
So what are CNTs? Discovered in the early 1990s, CNTs are cylindrical pure carbon structures with walls just one atom thick. With a diameter 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, they’re about 100 times stronger than a steel equivalent while being 6x lighter. They also offer significantly more electrical and thermal conductivity than copper.
Unfortunately, these wonder structures clump together into balls of millions of tubes when manufactured, rendering them virtually useless when added to materials. Mechnano’s technology solves this by detangling and separating CNTs, which can then be added to 3D printing materials without clumping up again. The result is a composite material that can be tailored with enhanced mechanical and functional properties.
Steven Lowder, Mechnano’s Founder and CEO, adds, “These advances bring greatly increased mechanical properties; also allow us to add electrical properties to plastics without degrading the mechanical properties; improve and add thermal properties, embed optical properties, and even add properties like magnetism to plastics.”
Mechnano and Tethon 3D collaborated to integrate the former’s E35A CNTs with the latter’s specially developed high-strength resin formulation, creating the final C-lite product. The development process only took about six weeks from negotiation to completion, with C-lite now in the final testing stage before commercial release.
Thanks to the infused CNTs, the resin can be used for parts which are at risk of ESD, which occurs when two surfaces touch and electrons move from one object to another. ESD-safe materials are specially designed to dissipate static in the case of contact, minimizing the risk of a fire hazard while protecting electronic components.
Lowder said, “This is a great example of how our discrete carbon nanotube technology is a game-changer for the additive manufacturing industry. E35A Masterbatch provides ESD benefits to existing materials, such as the custom high-temp resin formulated by Tethon 3D.”
Just last month, Tethon 3D also announced a partnership with Fortify, the Boston-based company behind the Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM) 3D printing platform, to develop new technical ceramics for additive manufacturing. Using Fortify’s FLUX CORE printer and Flux Developer software, Tethon has already developed two new ceramic materials at its R&D facility in Omaha, NE.
Elsewhere, Chinese 3D printer manufacturer Farsoon Technologies recently strengthened its partnership with French materials producer FABULOUS for the development of 3D printable materials for food contact and drinking water applications. The two companies intend to help end-users with new materials specific to industrial applications, namely BLUECARE for the food contact industry, and ACTIVE mainly suited to the water sector.
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Featured image shows a lattice 3D printed in C-lite. Photo via Tethon 3D.