Evonik is starting a new powder for 3D printed shoes and more.


Evonik, a leading supplier of PA 12 for powder bed fusion, has expanded its range of materials to include filaments, vat polymerization resins, and more. One of their latest introductions is a thermoplastic amide (TPA) material, which is a flexible, durable, and wear-resistant derivative of PA12. This material is particularly attractive for footwear and other applications that require long-term flexibility and rebound, thanks to its Shore A hardness of 90A. While it may not be as soft as TPU, it offers high rebound and lightweight properties that make it ideal for insoles or midsoles.

Not only does Evonik claim that the INFINIAM TPA material offers excellent detail and surface resolution, but they have also made sure it is compatible with a wide range of systems. It is designed for use in powder bed fusion (PBF), HP MJF (4200 series), and high-speed sintering, specifically for open powder bed machines. This comprehensive approach to the market ensures that customers can easily incorporate the material into their existing systems.

Furthermore, Evonik states that up to 50% of old powder can be utilized in builds with this material, which could lead to better cost-effectiveness compared to other options. The introduction of this TPA grade, called INFINAM TPA 4006 P, expands on Evonik’s existing TPA grades and a TPC grade. The TPC grade offers superior water and abrasion resistance and is available in both black and white, while the 4006 is currently only available in natural color.

According to Arnim Kraatz, Director of PBF at Evonik, elastomer-based 3D printing applications are a crucial part of the additive value proposition. They allow for infinite design possibilities and high customization, perfectly showcasing what 3D printing is capable of. By offering new optimized 3D printing materials, Evonik enables its customers to explore and scale up new applications, taking advantage of the unique material properties that 3D printing offers.

The timing of the introduction of INFINIAM TPA into the market is perfect, considering the growing interest in footwear material innovation. The footwear industry has shown a significant interest in 3D printing, and many companies are entering this space. While some are turning to material extrusion, which is cost-effective and capable of creating optimized shapes, its surface finish is not as smooth as other methods. Vat polymerization, on the other hand, delivers aesthetically appealing products with high smoothness and detail, but has recycling challenges.

Powder bed fusion strikes a balance between these two methods, offering good detail with moderate smoothness and a cost structure that falls in between. This makes it the ideal choice for creating optimal insole and midsole designs, where technology and material selection intersect. However, one challenge with both powder bed and vat polymerization-produced parts is the tendency to collect debris and stones, despite the allure of the 3D-printed aesthetic.

With such a broad range of material choices available – including TPC, TPA, TPU, PP, and more – the question arises as to which will dominate the footwear sector. The recent surge in interest suggests a promising future for the industry, with a wave of innovative materials and even footwear-centric 3D printers expected in the coming year. The potential of the footwear sector has long been recognized, and this could finally be the cycle that sees its materialization, benefiting millions of feet.

To stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the rapidly evolving 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third-party vendors, be sure to stay connected and informed.

Original source


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