By guest author Michael Molitch-Hou from 3D Printing
CRP Technology has introduced the latest in its line of specialty polymers for selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printing. Windform FR2 is the most recent material from the company’s TOP-LINE series of composites for SLS.
FR2 is a flame-retardant (hence the “FR”), halogen-free nylon powder reinforced with glass fiber, giving it electrically insulating properties. Demonstrating its capabilities, Windform FR2 passed a number of tests, including the FAR 25.853 12-second vertical and 15-second horizontal flammability tests, the 45° Bunsen burner test, and the Smoke Density Test.
This flame-retardant quality—in addition to its electrical insulation and good wear and temperature resistance—make the material suitable for some aerospace applications, in which regulations require a certain level of flame retardance. Additionally, it may be used for the 3D printing of automotive parts, such as casings for electrical and electronic components, and consumer goods, such as lighting or appliance components.
Windform FR2 is a follow-up to CRP’s Windform FR1, released just six months ago. While FR1 also demonstrates flame retardancy, it is reinforced with carbon fiber and does not exhibit the same electrical insulation. FR2 also offers a smoother surface finish.
CRP pursued the development of these materials upon determining that, while flame retardant polymers were being released to the additive manufacturing market, they did not have the same mechanical properties as the composites in which CRP specializes.
“CRP Technology constantly produces technological breakthroughs and highest-level solutions,” said Franco Cevolini, VP and CTO at CRP Technology. “Only a few months ago we launched Windform® FR1, flame retardant carbon fiber reinforced material. Now we introduced Windform® FR2, a flame-retardant material which is glass fiber reinforced. Flame retardants are not new to the 3D printing market but flame-retardant materials which were also reinforced and presenting significant mechanical properties, lacked. We at CRP Technology were the first to fill this void; we have created not only the first material of its kind, but now two. In order invent these materials, we must anticipate, intercept and satisfy the requests of the most demanding and innovative industrial sectors.”
CRP Technology has already made itself known in for its carbon fiber-reinforced polyamide, with which it has demonstrated a number of use cases particularly in the aerospace and automotive sectors, as well as some more niche applications like drones and golf clubs. However, the company is more than a 3D printing materials developer and service bureau. It is actually one division of the larger CRP Group, which began as a CNC service provider.
Because there are fewer material suppliers for SLS compared to other AM technologies, CRP stands out as a niche company. However, it is up against some very large names as giant chemical companies enter the market. BASF, for instance, is the largest chemical company in the world and has been making significant headway in AM via acquisitions, partnerships and investments over the past five years or so.