Common 3D printing filament is made from ABS or polycarbonate but one of the industry leaders wanted to do more. They hoped to expand their fused deposition modeling (FDM) offering to include new amorphous thermoplastics never before used. Such products have to have good mechanical properties and very good processability combined with low shrinkage so that the part does not warp when it cools.
We collaborated to identify the processing and mechanical properties of the incumbent plastics they already used. We then identified new thermoplastics with similar flow and mechanicals. We made the special high tolerance filament required by the machine.
The filaments of the two new materials, transparent ABS and ASA, worked perfectly on the existing machine without any significant changes. Parts were made where the transparent ABS offered high colorability plus, of course, transparency and the ASA offered extremely high UV resistance for outdoor use. That was all around 2004, way before 3D printing took off. Both materials were subsequently commercialized. Phantom Plastics is now developing new selective laser sintering (SLS) plastic materials that surpass the performance of existing materials.
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