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    3M pioneers 3D printing with PTFE

    October 17, 2017
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    3M pioneers 3D printing with PTFE

    3M has developed a technology to 3D print fully fluorinated polymers.

    Explore our events for 3D Printing related activities

    3M pioneers 3D printing with PTFE

    3M has developed a technology to 3D print fully fluorinated polymers.

    Explore our events for 3D Printing related activities

    3M pioneers 3D printing with PTFE

    3M has developed a technology to 3D print fully fluorinated polymers.

    Explore our events for 3D Printing related activities

    • 3D printing

      This new technology is particularly exciting for PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) applications and is aimed at the Automotive, Chemical Processing, Medical equipment as well as Energy and Aerospace markets.

      The new development, which complements fluoropolymer processing, allows 3D printing as an additional and differentiated way of processing PTFE. 3M has selected stereolithography, also known as Vat Polymerization, as the Additive Manufacturing process method. Stereolithography involves the curing of a photosensitive material by selectively delivering energy to specific regions. The printed parts show many properties similar to those produced by traditional processing techniques. Some properties may be even superior.

      All publicly available information has been compiled into our Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing brochure:

      Download Additive Manufacturing brochure


     

    October 2017

    Mechanical Properties

    In order to meet the demands of an application, both material and processing methods must be taken into consideration when designing a part. Selection of material and processing methods involves comparison of many parameters including yield strength.

    The yield strength is significant as once the part is stressed beyond its yield point it becomes permanently deformed. Many plastic parts need to operate below their yield point to maintain elasticity and to retain their original shape. The yield point can be approximated by defining an offset yield strength, which is the stress at which a specific plastic deformation occurs. For PTFE, the stress at which 10% permanent deformation occurs (also called the “offset”) is often used, as no clear yield point appears for PTFE over the course of the stress-strain curve.

    In the figure below, the average offset yield strength of a sintered 3D printed PTFE structure simulating a test specimen is compared to a sintered die cut PTFE test specimen, which is manufactured using traditional PTFE processing. The 3D printed part was tested in the build plane (parallel to printed layers).

    Offset yield strength of 3D printed structures:


    Tensile testing. Measurement based on a dog-bone, punched from horizontal printed sheet (ASTM D1708)

    Data is not for specification. Tensile specimen based on ASTM D1708 (thickness: 1.5 mm) tested at 12.7 mm per minute extension at room temperature.

    While not intended to exactly replicate existing PTFE processing technology, comparing this 3D printed specimen against the traditionally produced specimen demonstrates similar performance in the direction parallel to the printed layers. This further supports that this process can be a viable option for a wide range of applications. The next step is to print some parts to benchmark and evaluate potential uses. This benchmarking will help optimize the process and performance of this emerging technology.

     


    September 2017

    Mechanical Properties

    In order to meet the demands of an application, the design of the part must consider both material and processing to ensure reliability. Selection of material and processing method involves comparison of many parameters including mechanical strength. Two characteristics related to the material’s mechanical strength are tensile strength and elongation at break, which are often part of the initial screening for specific applications.

    Average tensile and elongation values of 3D printed PTFE structures are shown in the figure below. The 3D printed part simulated a sintered die cut PTFE specimen. The part was then tested in build plane (parallel to printed layers).

    Physical properties on experimental 3D printed structures.

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      Tensile testing. Measurement based on a dog-bone, punched from horizontal printed sheet (ASTM D1708)

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      Average tensile strength at break

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      Average elongation at break

    Data is not for specification. Tensile specimen based on ASTM D1708 (thickness: 1.5 mm) tested at 12.7 mm per minute extension at room temperature.

    Tensile and elongation properties are influenced by the polymer, process conditions, and to the degree to which the part is optimally formed. Due to its unique nature, PTFE is not melt processible, which is why PTFE is not injection molded or extruded. A critical step to achieve mechanical integrity in the finished part is fusion of the PTFE particles.

    While not intended to exactly replicate existing PTFE processing technology, 3D printed part test results show that this process can be a viable option for a wide range of applications. The next step is to print some parts to benchmark and evaluate potential uses. Processing and performance from this benchmarking will help optimize the process and performance of this emerging technology.


    May 2017

    Density of 3D printed PTFE parts

    Density range of PTFE parts produced by conventional technologies

    Stereolithography is the selected Additive Manufacturing process method for PTFE and other fully fluorinated polymers.

    Density may be regarded as one of the most significant PTFE properties. Density data allows for conclusions about processing conditions, like cooling rate after sintering, and about certain properties, like flex life or permeability, which all affect the quality of a PTFE part.

    3M printed PTFE parts up to approximately 1.4 mm thickness. The samples show density values of 2.12 to 2.17g/cm³ which is within the typical range of conventionally processed material.

    Visualization under the microscope

    The PTFE parts printed by 3M were analyzed by SEM. No voids are visible in either cross sectional SEM picture, printed or machined.

    Cross section of a 3D printed PTFE part (freeze fractured)
    Cross section of a 3D printed PTFE part (freeze fractured)
    Cross section of a machined PTFE part (freeze fractured)
    Cross section of a machined PTFE part (freeze fractured)

    Important Notice

    All Information which is presented here is based on our current best knowledge and is intended to present general notes and data for 3D printed PTFE articles. All data relate to the current formulation and current processing technique. The formulation and process to print 3D printed PTFE articles is under development and is not commercial yet.

    Thus, product properties, features and processing technology are not standardized yet, may change during development and cannot be warranted.

    Please note that 3M does not make a statement about the commercial availability of this product.

     

    October 2016

    3M to unveil new 3D printing technology at K show 2016

    3M has developed a patent-pending 3D printing technology as an additional and differentiated way of processing fully-fluorinated polymers. This will enable complex structures to be fabricated without the need to use expensive traditional processing techniques.

    Commonly known as 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing is the key term used to describe the process of directly manufacturing three-dimensional physical objects layer by layer using digital information.

    This flexible new technology paves the way for the production of polymer structures in a single processing step rather than moulding and assembling component parts. The development also makes it possible to 3D print fluoropolymer-based spare parts and customised designs with a complex geometry on demand.

    As part of the development, 3M is pioneering the 3D printing of the fluoropolymer PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) which is used in a wide range of applications such as sealing and lining.

    3D printing developing at a rapid pace.
    3D printing is developing at a rapid pace and is opening up a number of exciting opportunities for the manufacturing of fully-fluorinated polymers, particularly for PTFE which is a real quantum leap for the industry.

    This additional new manufacturing process will provide increased flexibility and accelerate product design cycles as spare parts can be manufactured digitally without the need to create new tools.

    Better for the environment
    The new technology also offers a more sustainable manufacturing solution due to potential material savings and waste reduction. This is achieved as the traditional method for creating prototype parts from PTFE creates significant waste. With 3D printing, waste is kept to a minimum and unused material can be used for subsequent printing jobs.
    If you would like to have our key facts in one file, download the handout below.



    3M Pioneers 3D Printing with PTFE (PDF, 338 KB)

    Or watch our video:

    3D Printing with PTFE by 3M revealed on K 2016