Graphene is the world’s first 2D material which has grabbed attention of scientists, researchers and industries worldwide. This is because of its wide array of properties, such as being light as air while being immensely tough, being more than a hundred times stronger than steel but incredibly fixable all the while being thin and transparent, not to mention being a good conductor and the perfect barrier which does not even allow gases to pass.
3D printing or rapid prototyping is a method that turns digital 3D models into real objects by building them one layer at a time. This technology invented more than 3 decades ago has been used intensively for rapid prototyping and in the last few years has evolved into modern day technology with huge market demand. From metals, metal alloys, thermoplastics, composites, ceramics and many others 3D printing has been used for a wide variety of things and at the time is being used as end-use manufacturing technology. Over the years it has the potential to grow more and take over the manufacturing and production industry in numerous sectors.
So when the idea of Graphene and 3D printing were put together it creates unlimited opportunities. A UK based graphene and nanomaterial’s manufacturer names Haydale Graphene Industries PLC recently announced that they will be setting in motion the idea of a new line of graphene enhanced PLA filaments through Haydale Composite Solution (HCS) its subsidiary. They will officially announce the launch mid-September at the additive manufacturing TCT Show in Birmingham.
PLA, a biodegradable thermoplastic obtained from renewable resources is normally used by 3D printers for rapid prototyping because of it being environmentally friendly and easy to use in the human body. On the other hand Graphene is an atomic scale honeycomb lattice composed of carbon atoms and is being claimed as maybe the most advantageous 3D printing material. This certain material delivers more than regular PLA and could eventually bring FDM 3D printing technology from simply prototyping to the next level.
Graphene Enhanced PLA Over Traditional PLA
According to 3D printing companies and experts who had tested them inside out HCS’s graphene enhanced PLA filaments overture traditional PLA filaments by a lot. The graphene enhanced filament showed use while printing such as striking first layer adhesives and z-axis strength retention not to mention a compelling increase in the processing print speed.
Not just that, but even the actual quality of the new prints are notably different in a good light, they are reportedly stronger, stiffer, showed a finer impact performance, better quality of print and surface finish along with greatly improved dimensional preciseness. On top of that, the filaments will be available in both 1.75mm and 2.85mm diameters which will be suitable for a wide range of FDM printers making it remarkably resourceful.
Managing Director of HCS Gerry Boyce says they are very excited about this new product and the development of graphene enhanced thermoplastic materials for rapid prototyping. He says these new techniques put a lot of benefits on the table including the qualification to make end products stronger and make it at the speed of light. According to Boyce speed has always been a downside to wide scaling 3D printing, but with this technique it might turn around. They are extremely enthusiastic about the future of making structural components straight from CAD.
In order to develop and market the graphene enhanced 3D printing filament, Filament Print UK, Fullerex, HGIs sales agent for its nanomaterials and HCS has joined forces. Filament Print UK specializes in the production of thermoplastic filaments. According to the media and press release both HCS and Filament Print UK are working on developing a range of graphene enhanced thermoplastics at the moment including ABS, Nylon and polypropylene materials; although there is no assurance as to when they will be available in the market.
Even though they have not come out to market yet, there are numerous people eager to test the new graphene enhanced PLA out, and they can do so at the TCT show, where the three companies will be present. All products will be showcased and the graphene filament can be seen in action being printed. No prices have yet been set but they will be revealed reportedly at the trade show.
Joe Eldrige, Director of Fullerex Ltd says that eloquent improvements in the materials are required to move FDM( Fused Deposition Modelling) 3D printers in order for them to turn prototypes or display models to capable technology for promptly producing mechanically robust functional parts. He also adds that Haydales qualification to manufacture graphene to correctly exploit its desirable end products has been a more than a needed essential to bridge this gap. Whether you are an industrial manufacturer or simply a hobbyist, this filament is an overwhelming option which is easy to use and has an extensive compatibility.
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