Protolabs expands 3d printing services with polypropylene sls
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Protolabs expands 3D printing providers with polypropylene SLS

On-demand digital manufacturing supplier Protolabs has launched a brand new polypropylene (PP) 3D printing service for its prospects in Europe. An organization first, the Telford-based Northern European department of Protolabs has invested considerably in growth of the fabric for SLS 3D printing. “Till just lately you might solely use 3D printed polypropylene-like supplies that mimicked this plastic, however they didn’t have all the similar properties and weren’t as sturdy,” explains Andrea Landoni, 3D printing product supervisor for Protolabs.

With the launch of the brand new service the corporate goals to supply design engineers with the power to develop and take a look at prototypes utilizing the identical materials as used for manufacturing. SLS know-how may even allow the creation of complicated designs that may’t be achieved with conventional manufacturing applied sciences. 

“The product design can […] be shortly reiterated and retested till [designers] have the proper resolution, earlier than committing to tooling,” provides Landoni. 

“This breakthrough takes product growth to the subsequent degree utilizing probably the most versatile of plastics.”

3D printed polypropylene housing with dwelling hinge. Picture by way of Protolabs.

The numerous purposes and makes use of of polypropylene plastic

Polypropylene is a low-temperature thermoplastic (130°C-171°C) produced via the polymerization of propylene, a colorless hydrocarbon fuel. It’s the second most generally produced commodity plastic on this planet, after polyethylene.

The fabric has a semi-crystalline molecular construction, which prevents it from softening till a given amount of warmth is absolutely absorbed. PP is subsequently extremely immune to warmth, regardless of having a low melting temperature. Additionally it is extremely versatile, with a tensile power of 1.9 GPa, and provides resistance in opposition to electrical energy and plenty of chemical compounds, together with dilute acids, dilute alkalis, and alcohols. 

These mixed properties make the fabric appropriate for plenty of purposes, like packaging, dwelling hinges, and electrical insulators, therefore its widespread utilization. Sometimes, PP is used when injection molding merchandise. Nevertheless the fabric has been picked up by different 3D printer producers like Germany’s Apium Additive Applied sciences and French industrial 3D printer supplier Prodways.

When processed via 3D printing, PP purposes opens as much as host of designs with complicated geometries that may’t be achieved with injection molding. This contains the design and manufacturing of honeycomb constructions to scale back weight or natural shapes similar to inside channels.

Protolabs provides CNC machining and injection molding providers for manufacturing components with PP in addition to the brand new 3D printing service. Remaining know-how agnostic, the corporate will subsequently be capable of advise its prospects on which manufacturing know-how fits their software. “Earlier than, for those who wished to make use of polypropylene then you definately had been restricted in what you might design by the manufacturing know-how obtainable to you,” continues Landoni, “Now the one limitation is your creativeness,” 

3D printed polypropylene housing with living hinge. Photo via Protolabs.3D printed polypropylene housing with dwelling hinge. Picture by way of Protolabs.

Protolabs increasing its 3D printing materials portfolio

With the launch of its new SLS PP service, Protolabs continues to develop its on-demand 3D printing capabilities. Lately the corporate introduced the addition of Carbon’s Digital Gentle Synthesis (DLS) to its portfolio. This contains use of RPU and FPU supplies from Carbon, similar to ABS and polycarbonate. 

Shifting out of prototyping to satisfy the necessities of extra prospects in search of end-use 3D printed components, the corporate additionally launched its excessive necessities direct metallic laser sintering service in June this 12 months. The transfer was additional mentioned by Protolabs CEO Vicki Holt in for 3D Printing Trade unique interview.

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Featured picture reveals 3D printed polypropylene housing with dwelling hinge. Picture by way of Protolabs.

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