Huntsman Corp. is showing its advances in additive manufacturing (3D printing) technology with the launch of Iroprint materials available in filaments, powder, and resin. Developed in collaboration with major unnamed footwear and sportswear manufacturers, the thermoplastic polyurethane material is easy to print with the added benefit of being soft and flexible. The 3D printing market is growing, but there is a lack of the right materials for some applications. Many of the 3D printing materials now are rigid whereas a lot of products require flexible materials. The Iroprint platform includes Iroprint F filaments for fused filament fabrication and other extrusion-based methods, Iroprint R one-component liquid resins for stereolithography and digital light processing as well as Iroprint P powders for high-speed sintering and selective laser sintering.
The material is developed for printing and does print, unlike some products that become soft and sticky when melted by a printer. The filaments offer a consistent extrusion diameter, which is important for the quality of the final product. Major customers from Brazil and China have already expressed interest in the product, which can be used to various things such as shoe soles, bicycle grips, and a rubber-replacement in fixtures. The technology has moved from prototyping to functional prototyping, which means they have all the key features. The next stage will be limited editions because 3D printing is still a costly technology. Huntsman is displaying its Iroprint range at its both at K this year, with an Ultimaker S5 printer using Iroprint F 80213 filament to create flexible prototypes.
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