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BASF Launches Ultrafuse 316L – A Metal Polymer Composite for Fused Filament Fabrication 3D Printing Technology

3D Printing Technology

BASF commercialises the Ultrafuse 316L metal polymer in collaboration with iGo3D, Ultimaker, and MatterHackers

3D Printing Technology
Above: BASF Ultrafuse 316L – A Metal-Polymer Composite 3D Printing Material for FFF 3D Printing Technology/Image Credit: BASF 3D Printing Solutions

BASF 3D Printing Solutions has launched a metal polymer filament named Ultrafuse 316L. It is an innovative metal composite for Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printing technology. It is an excellent alternative to metal powders used in Powder Bed Fusion & Binder Jetting 3D printing technology. It not only safeguards the operators from the potentially hazardous powders but also simplifies the operation.

The parts 3D printed with Ultrafuse 316L is first debinded and then sintered and the final part so obtained is a 316L stainless steel part.

Ultrafuse 316L – A Metal-Polymer Composite 3D Printing Material

Ultrafuse 316L is a metal-polymer composite which is developed for Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D Printing systems. The filament is a metal filament with polymer content. The printing process is similar to a regular FFF filament where the filament is heated and deposited on the build platform layer-by-layer wherein the polymer content of the material acts as a binder material.

The main polymer content (primary binder) from the so-called green part is removed in a catalytic debinding process. The result of this process is the brown part, which consists of pure metal particles and a residual binder (secondary binder). The sub-sequent sintering process at temperatures right below the melting temperature of the metal removes the secondary binder from the brown part and causes the metal particles to coalesce. The material reaches its final properties post-sintering, for example with regard to hardness and strength.

The metal content of the new filament is as high as 90% and is evenly distributed within the polymer filament. This even distribution reduces the risk of defects. Since filaments are the easiest of the materials to handle in a 3D printing system, it is much more preferable over the handling of metal powders used in Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Direct Metal Deposition (DMD), and Binder Jetting 3D printing technologies.

The new metal composite filament is highly flexible and strong: Ultrafuse 316L can be used with both Bowden and direct drive extruders and can be guided through complex filament transport systems.

According to François Minec, Managing Director, BASF 3D Printing Solutions, “Ultrafuse 316L can, under certain conditions, be processed on any conventional, open-material FFF printer. Our goal was to develop a high-quality metal filament that makes the additive manufacturing of metal parts considerably easier, cheaper, faster, and accessible to everyone.”

Athanassios Kotrotsios, Managing Director, iGo3D adds, “In comparison to Metal Injection Molding (MIM), the Ultrafuse 316L offers an office friendly solution, which opens new production opportunities. To reach the full potential of the metal filament and to ensure a solid start, it is necessary to understand that Ultrafuse 316L is not a conventional filament,” explains Kotrotsios. “Our goal is it to provide full service packages and support from the first request up to the finalized and sintered part, to implement metal 3D printing as a natural component in your manufacturing process.”

Paul Heiden, Senior Vice President Product Management from Ultimaker explains his viewpoints about the Ultrafuse 316L stating, “The Ultimaker S5 raises the bar for professional 3D printing by offering a hassle free 3D printing experience with industrial-grade materials. We are proud to announce that print profiles for Ultrafuse 316L will be added to the Ultimaker Market-place. 3D printing professionals worldwide can then use FFF technology to produce functional metal parts at significantly reduced time and costs compared to traditional methods.

Lastly, Dave Gaylord, Head of Products from MatterHackers said, “Ultrafuse 316L from BASF enables engineers and designers to produce true, pure, industrial grade metal parts easily and affordably using desktop 3D printers. This material is a significant technological advancement and truly a shift in how we describe what is possible with desktop 3D printers.”

About BASF 3D Printing Solutions: BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, is a fully owned subsidiary of BASF New Business GmbH. It focuses on establishing and expanding the business with 3D printing materials, system solutions, components and services.

About iGo3D: iGo3D is a pioneer in the field of professional desktop 3D printing solutions in the DACH region. iGo3D supplies its customers with 3D printing products from the most renowned manufacturers. Since the foundation in 2013, the company has grown steadily and now has 40 employees at its headquarter in Hanover.

About Ultimaker: Since 2011, Ultimaker has built an open and easy to use solution of 3D printers, software, and materials that enable professional designers and engineers to innovate every day.

About MatterHackers: MatterHackers is one of the largest 3D printing retailers in the world. Its mission is to make 3D printing and digital fabrication easier and more accessible for everyone by providing unbiased guidance and recommendations to help schools, businesses, and individuals get started with 3D printing.


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