Traditional 3D printing materials PLA and ABS have limited technical capabilities due to the nature of the polymers themselves. But that's soon to change as 3DXTech brings twenty years of experience in high-performance polymers to bear on the problem. From traditional polyamides to high-temperature polyketones, the Michigan firm is looking to develop innovative solutions to what are often difficult technical challenges.

"A new site we recently launched to commercialize innovative materials for the 3DP industry, 3DXTech.com, is meant to bridge the gap between traditional materials for FFF and FDM type printing such as ABS and PLA," says Matt Howlett of 3DXTech. "Our focus has been to bring new and innovative materials to the market that focus on functionality."

According to Howlett, two new product offerings, iOn ABS PA and 3DXNano ESD ABS offer increased performance.

Carbon nanotube material

The company's iOn polymer offers improvements to the mechanical, thermal, and chemical resistance of ABS, and Howlett says the products do so while retaining much of the ease of printing offered by traditional ABS formulations. Howlett says iOn is a "true alloy that leverages the strengths of both ABS and nylon to create a 3D printing filament that prints like ABS, but has many of the performance attributes of nylon."

The second of the pair, 3DXNano, makes use of carbon nanotubes which make it capable of ESD-like levels of conductivity and all the while retaining a high degree of the base resin's properties. According to Howlett, he sees 3DXNano as an ideal material for critical applications in the auto, industrial, and semiconductor markets where ESD protection is required.

"The nanotube-based filaments boast superior ductility, cleanliness, and consistency compared to traditional carbon black compounds," Howlett said.

PLA molecule

Through the company's 3DXperimental program, they evaluate a wide variety of developmental materials and work on new formulas – using different polymers, alloys, and blends – to discover which of the proposed materials show promise early in the cycle.

Products which have passed muster via the 3DXperimental process have been vetted through the company's manufacturing system and printed on their 3 printers. The filaments are then released in limited quantities – sometimes in batches as small 15-20 rolls at a time – to a select group of customers.

If you'd like to get your hands on the experimental-grade filaments, you can visit their Facebook page (or their website) to get "flash notices" as new products are introduced.

"We've commercialized ABS, and we're in the final stages of testing a new PETG with CNT, and it's targeted specifically at the semi-conductor industry," Howlett said. "We 'trial' all new products on three different 3D printers, and only after passing rigid internal qualifications do we then test market them via our 3DXperimental platform before going live to the general market."