Polymaker and Covestro cooperate for many years, within which they implement innovations in the world of 3D printing. The result of the cooperation was the launch of a series of polycarbonate materials for additive manufacturing. Now, as part of their cooperation, they have introduced a new type of materials for 3D printing – this time flexible plastics for the production of imitation fabrics.
In undertaking such a task, companies had to optimize FDM 3D printing technologies. Their goal was to focus on achieving new invoices for the prints made, while maintaining high quality and the possibility of switching to mass production. The newly developed materials are based on TPU and have a flexibility of 90A or 95A.
As part of the project, they cooperated with two producers of 3D printers – Raise3D and INTAMSYS. As a result, two printers of these manufacturers – INTAMSYS FLEX 510 and Raise3D E2 – were the first to be optimized for production from their new materials.
The makers have an interesting theory – they say that 3D printing of fabrics is a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional weaving. The concept is to print thin, three-dimensional structures with up to five layers. Initially, 3D printed elements made of elastic materials can be used to diversify clothing items such as shoes, bags or headgear. Their advantage is that you can adjust their size to a specific application, not cut from a larger sheet of material, which reduces the amount of waste.
As part of the project, Polymaker developed a software solution that enables users to design digitally. This gives them a choice of individual textures and patterns, and the possibilities are huge. Algorithms allow you to generate structures with varying degrees of flexibility, hardness and translucency.
According to the creators, their project is more than just an effective way to attract users’ attention. Both companies believe in the potential of 3D printing in the textile industry. They point out that as the project develops, 3D printed patterns can be produced directly on the surface of shoes or clothing.
The first of the devices, optimized for 3D printing of fabrics, is INTAMSYS FLEX 510. The system is dedicated to additive production from flexible materials and allows to achieve high quality of the produced elements.