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Carbon Fiber Strength and Rubberlike Flexibility: Stratasys Introduces Two New 3D Printing Materials

Stratasys may be one of the oldest, largest, and most-respected manufacturers of 3D printers in the industry, but their materials are a very, very close second to their machines in terms of making them a household name. So when they come out with a new material or two, it’s worth taking a close look. This week Stratasys announced the release of two new materials, one for FDM 3D printing and one for their PolyJet printing process.

FDM Nylon 12CF is that much-desired, magical unicorn of a material: a 3D printable thermoplastic strong and tough enough to replace metal components. It’s the first such material available for Stratasys FDM printers, and its strength comes from the fact that it contains 35 percent chopped carbon fiber by weight. According to Stratasys, FDM Nylon 12CF offers the best stiffness-to-weight ratio of any of their FDM thermoplastics, and should appeal in particular to design and manufacturing engineers who need to produce functional prototypes, manufacturing aids, and low-volume production parts.

“The very high stiffness-to-weight ratio of the FDM Nylon 12CF material makes it extremely well suited for a wide range of final part and manufacturing tooling applications where the combination of stiffness, strength and low weight is critical to the performance,” said Tim Schniepp, Head of Tooling Solutions for Stratasys. “Examples include drill guides, end-of-arm tooling, brackets, jigs, fixtures, and even metal forming tools.”

Although FDM Nylon 12CF won’t begin shipping until the second quarter of 2017, it’s already getting positive reviews from the beta customers that have put it to use. One of those customers is Utah Trikes, manufacturer of customized trikes tailored to every individual customer.

“The excellent strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio of the FDM Nylon 12CF material is a game changer for us. It means we can prototype almost every part of our product on Stratasys FDM 3D Printers in under two weeks, where in the past it could take us over two months,” said Ashley Guy, President and CEO of Utah Trikes. “I no longer have to constrain my designs because of prototyping limitations. Now I can focus on designing better, more functional parts without worrying about how to shape the aluminum or how to lay up carbon fiber onto the molds. Stratasys FDM Nylon 12CF parts can be 3D printed faster, with superior stiffness-to-weight performance and with better repeatability than any other 3D printing technology or vendor we’ve seen.”

FDM Nylon 12CF is designed for use with the Stratasys Fortus 450mc and is compatible with soluble support material SR-110. It will require a hardware upgrade and an updated version of Insight software. Learn more below: