PLANO, Texas—Adaptive3D Technologies has released a new photopolymer resin for 3D printing, a material the company said is in line with its vision to produce high-quality, high-volume elastomers.
Plano-based Adaptive3D recently introduced Elastic ToughRubber 90, a high tear-strength, direct curing rubber and "polyurethane-like" elastomer, at FormNext in Frankfurt.
Product Marketing Manager Zach Reagan said the one-part, mix-free system will see its primary use in the footwear industry, though ETR already is used to produce door boots in the automotive industry. It also has applications for training in the medical industry and is used in some down-hole applications in the oil and gas realm, Reagan said.
"Really, it's for the type of shoes in the high performance athletic space, and can be found in the mid-sole portion," Reagan said. "The material can be 3D printed in complex micro-structured engineered foam with a repeating lattice structure, which allows for a different feel in different areas of the sole."
Adaptive3D said ETR is ideal for products that have high stress points—such as athletic shoes—and ETR, once cured, can withstand such tolerances, Reagan said.
"Everyone runs differently, everyone stands differently," he said. "A gasket is fairly simple to print, but ETR is great for customization because it allows for difficult geometries in complex micro-structures."
Adaptive3D CEO Walter Voit said ETR maintains a stable performance at cold temperatures and boasts a tear strength of 46 kN/m.
ETR also maintains a greater than 200 percent elongation, and is easy to process because of the one-part system that "ensures higher part-to-part quality," Adaptive3D said in a recent news release. ETR is pot stable, so leftover material can be used in future prints, reducing waste, according to Adaptive3D.
"Elastic ToughRubber unlocks the benefits of 3D printing to those who manufacture and sell rubber, polyurethane and foam parts," Voit said.
Reagan noted that ETR is not a true polyurethane, but rather classified as a plastic that is "rubber-like."
As a photoresin, ETR uses digital light processing (DLP) for curing, Reagan said. No specific brand printers are required to use ETR, though the material must be bombarded with 385 nanometers of light to cure properly. And ETR can be used either in top-down or bottom-up printing.
"Elastic ToughRubber is not just designed for end parts and products. It is already proven, and it is being used today to manufacture and sell consumer products," said Kial Gramley, vice president of sales and marketing. "Ultimately, we believe that the shoe industry is the perfect place for this material, and we are ready to scale up production in 2020."
Adaptive3D said it has faced challenges attempting to additively manufacture materials with rubber and polyurethane-like performance.
Fused filament fabrication and laser sintering—often using powders as the additive material—traditionally result in prototype parts, according to Adaptive3D.
Other types of 3D printing, such as DLP and stereolithography, can use underperforming additive materials or require post-process heating and compression to form a "support network" to displace the weaker initial print, Reagan said.
"Elastic ToughRubber 90 is a tough printable elastomer for all seasons," Voit said.
Reducing a stigma
Reagan said Adaptive3D is looking to buck the notion that 3D printed products somehow need altered or produced with a different material before transitioning to end-use applications.