Covestro Launches Lab for Wide Range of 3D Printing Materials
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on June 28, 2016 |
Covestro has established a lab for developing 3D printing materials for a wide range of technologies...

Last year, Covestro (formerly known as Bayer MaterialScience) announced that it had entered the 3D printing market by producing a polycarbonate (PC) filament with Chinese manufacturer Polymaker. Of course, this was not to be the last 3D printing material to be engineered by the chemical giant.

Covestro has since announced that it will be developing a whole host of filaments, powders and liquid resins for 3D printing. Before spinning out as its own company and going public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange last fall, the firm represented Bayer’s $12.3 billion material science division. The company will now lend its clout to greatly expand the materials available for 3D printing.

Covestro will create materials for a wide range of 3D printing technologies. (Image courtesy of Covestro.)
Covestro will create materials for a wide range of 3D printing technologies. (Image courtesy of Covestro.)

According to the company, there are more than 3,000 materials on the market for traditional manufacturing processes, but only around 30 for 3D printing. To grow this number, Covestro will leverage its own materials portfolio, which currently consists of everything from PC and polyurethanes (PU) to thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU), elastomers, adhesives and more.

To bring the materials to market, Covestro will work with other industry partners in a new lab opened at the company’s headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. Head of the company’s additive manufacturing division, Julien Guiu, explained that these partners “include formulators, 3D printer manufacturers, software companies, service providers and, of course, OEMs.” (OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer.)

In addition to the PC made with Polymaker, Covestro has also developed flexible TPU both in filament form and as powder for selective laser sintering. The company is further creating photosensitive resins for stereolithography, digital light processing and inkjet printing, including PU materials that can be customized for various physical characteristics, such as flexibility, weather and chemical resistance and toughness. This material could then be modifiable at the voxel level, similar to resins utilized by Stratasys’ PolyJet technology.

Covestro is just one of many materials giants to enter the 3D printing space. Others include DuPont and Eastman Chemical Company, which have begun developing filaments with 3D printing partners like taulman3D and colorFabb. It’s no surprise that these businesses are looking to take a piece of the 3D printing market, as market research firm IDTechEx anticipates this sector to be worth $8.3 billion by 2025.

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