A Real “hothead”: igus Launches New SLS Printing Material

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A-Real-hothead-igus-Launches-New-SLS-Printing-Material
A Real hothead- igus Launches New SLS Printing Material

In the future, 3D-printed polymer components are expected to withstand higher temperatures, such as those found in a car’s engine compartment. While currently available SLS printing materials can deform at temperatures over 80°C, a new powdery material called iglidur i230 from igus can endure long-term application temperatures of 110°C.

igus GmbH specializes in developing and manufacturing motion plastics, which are lubrication-free, high-performance polymers that enhance technology and cut costs in moving applications. They are the global leader in energy supply solutions, offering highly flexible cables, plain and linear bearings, and lead screw technology made from tribo-polymers. This family-owned business, headquartered in Cologne, Germany, operates in 35 countries and has a workforce of 4,900 employees worldwide. In 2021, igus achieved a revenue of €961 million.

Their research in the industry’s largest test labs continually produces innovations, ensuring greater safety for users. With 234,000 products available in stock, customers can calculate the service life online. The company has also expanded its offerings by launching internal startups, such as those focused on ball bearings, robot drives, 3D printing, the RBTX platform for Lean Robotics, and intelligent “smart plastics” for Industry 4.0.

Moreover, it is PTFE-free and offers approximately 80% greater wear resistance than the traditional PA12 material. There is a growing trend among designers to use 3D printers for producing components quickly and cost-effectively, especially for small series and prototypes. Selective laser sintering (SLS) is particularly favored. In this additive process, a printer melts plastic powder layer by layer to create components like plain bearings. However, components made from standard SLS printing materials, such as PA12, are typically only suitable for applications with temperatures of 80°C or lower.

Beyond this threshold, the material becomes soft and loses its dimensional stability, which is unacceptable for many applications, such as bearings in a car’s engine compartment, industrial plants, or various air-conditioning and cooling systems. “In response to the increasing demand for 3D-printed plain bearings for high-temperature applications, we have developed a new SLS printing material called iglidur i230,” explains Paul Gomer, Material Developer in 3D Printing at igus.

Tests conducted in certified external laboratories according to DIN EN ISO 75 HDT-A and HDT-B standards have confirmed its heat resistance. Consequently, the powdery printing material is suitable for long-term application temperatures of up to 110°C. It can even withstand extreme temperatures of up to 170°C for short periods without deforming. Additionally, the material is electrostatically dissipative, providing protection against electrostatic discharges that could potentially cause fires and explosions in machines and systems. Like many other igus materials, iglidur i230 is also free of PTFE.

Iglidur i230 stands out for its exceptional temperature resistance and durability under movement. Tests conducted in igus’ in-house laboratory demonstrate that this printing material is approximately 80% more resistant to wear than PA12. “3D-printed plain bearings crafted from iglidur i230 exhibit significantly prolonged service life, enhancing the efficiency of machines, systems, and vehicles while reducing maintenance needs,” Gomer explains.

Moreover, the material boasts around 50% greater mechanical strength than PA12 at room temperature. It also withstood bending tests under a pressure of 94MPa. “This allows achieving equivalent component strength in plain bearings with thinner wall thickness, saving space and weight in compact installations,” Gomer emphasizes. Furthermore, users of 3D-printed plain bearings made from iglidur i230 can forego laborious relubrication work, thanks to the integrated solid lubricants ensuring smooth dry operation.

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