BASF, one of the largest companies in the 3D printing industry, is slowly introducing its 3D printing materials, with the possibility of dwarfing existing players in space. The latest product line consists of a series of flexible filaments for the “simple, fast and cost-effective production of 3D-printed parts using Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF).”
The Forward AM Ultrafuse Flexible Filament portfolio consists of three materials: Ultrafuse TPU 64D, Ultrafuse TPU 95A and Ultrafuse TPS 90A. All three are said to be soft, yet tough, and offer mechanical strength and abrasion resistance, making them suitable for industrial applications.
“Flexible materials surround us in our daily life, in automobile manufacturing and production tools as well as in household appliances and consumer goods. When developing our flexible filament portfolio, we used BASF’s decades of experience with flexible materials such as Elastollan for traditional production. We are now transferring this know-how to AM to help our customers realize next level industrial 3D printing applications with the best flexible filaments on the market, ”said Roger Sijlbing, Head of Sales and Marketing, Additive Extrusion Solutions BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH.
Ultrafuse TPU 64D is the hardest elastomer in the series, with high stiffness and flexibility, ideal for impact-resistant parts. Ultrafuse TPU 95A is designed for quick and easy printing while maintaining durability and flexibility, as well as abrasion resistance. For this reason, Forward AM suggests its use for wear applications. Finally, there is the Ultrafuse TPS 90A, which “offers an unparalleled soft-touch surface feel that gives printed parts a non-slip feel and feel”. It is characterized by low moisture absorption and “convincing layer adhesion” recommended by BASF, ideal for two-component parts and device handles.
These new materials complement the existing flexible filaments from Forward AM, Ultrafuse TPU 85A and Ultrafuse TPC 45D. BASF assumes that these newer filaments can be used for industrial applications, which was previously difficult to achieve with the materials available on the market.
While companies like NinjaTek have been working on flexible filaments for years and earning a great deal of customer loyalty, it is difficult to imagine that a company like BASF would conquer the market simply because of its size, power and finances. The company has now set up a 3D printing service office for spare parts. I have little doubt that others in the industry will have to calculate unless they are taken over by BASF or one of its competitors like Mitsubishi Chemical.