Sep 26, 2016 | By Alec

The speed at which material innovations can progress is truly remarkable. Back in early 2015, a team of London-based engineers reached an important milestone by successfully experimenting with graphene 3D printing, and that same material is already coming to desktop FDM 3D printing. Italian filament specialist FILOALFA and graphene expert Directa Plus have just unveiled a new GRAFYLON 3D PLA filament that combines all the best properties of graphene with the low cost and 3D printability of PLA.

This is big deal because graphene is one of the most functionally attractive materials in the world. Its theoretical existence has been discussed for decades, but it was only first successfully produced in 2004. In a nutshell, it’s a form of carbon, just like diamonds or the lead in pencils. But unlike most forms of carbon, it isn’t a type of 3D shape, but is instead a 2D material that consists of a hexagonal sheet only a single atom thick. Its properties are especially interesting; not only is it very light and flexible, it is also extremely durable (about a hundred times stronger than steel) while being a very efficient conductor of heat and electricity.

This makes it a very appealing industrial material, and its increasingly being used for a very wide range of applications. Over the past year-and-a-half or so, researchers have also been extensively experimenting with 3D printable forms of graphene. In many cases, supercapacitors and batteries have been very high on the agenda, thanks to graphene’s excellent energy-storage capacity. Just this summer scientists from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a new battery made from 3D printed graphene, which can hold a large charge of energy, is recharged in a matter of seconds and will last a lifetime.

Those applications are usually limited to lab environments and require very specific setups, but even 3D printing filament manufacturers have picked up on graphene. Just last year, Graphene 3D Labs launched their graphene-based conductive filament; In August Haydale Graphene Industries plc, a UK based graphene and nanomaterials manufacturer, announced it would be launching a new line of graphene enhanced PLA filaments, and now Italian graphene pioneer Directa Plus and plastics specialist FILOALFA are joining them. The latter is marketing a variety of unique graphene blends that enhance product performance, depending on the application. Among others, Directa Plus has already brought custom solutions to textiles, tires, and composite material sectors.

But the big challenge with graphene-based 3D printer filaments is finding a mixture that brings all the attractive graphene properties to the table, without making it impossible to 3D print or very expensive. But Directa Plus seems to have found a perfect balance with what they call Graphene Plus, which allows GRAFYLON 3D exhibit very attractive properties. When compared with similar non-graphene based filaments, GRAFYLON 3D exhibited excellent thermal conduction properties, and was very elastic – with elasticity improving by 34 percent and elongation properties increasing by 28 percent. At the same time, GRAFYLON 3D features a tensile strength that is 23 percent higher than other materials, while it also exhibited excellent surface quality.

Unsurprisingly, the Italian developers see this as a perfect addition to desktop 3D printing efforts. “Our new 3D printing filaments provide advantages over non-graphene-based filaments that open up new areas of application for 3D printing based on the incredible properties, such as conductivity and material strength. We believe they can revolutionize industry standards in the 3D printing field,” said Directa Plus CEO Giulio Cesareo.

Cesareo further revealed that the filament is completely safe to use and not at all harmful to the environment. “Our Graphene Plus is produced from a chemical-free process that has been independently certified as non-toxic and non-cytotoxic,” he added. This makes it a perfect 3D printing option for a variety of engineering projects, especially as it is 3D printable on a wide range of 3D printers – requiring a 3D printing temperature of 170 - 210°C and a printbed that can, but doesn’t need to be, heated. And with a price of €39 (approximately $43 USD) for a 700g spool, it also fits in most 3D printing budgets.

Keep an eye out for more follow-up filaments, as FILOALFA’s Antonio Berera already said that this is just the first of a new generation of graphene-based filaments. “We are working with Directa to produce graphene-based products to be used with other polymeric bases for our filaments, and look forward to bringing to the market further products with unique properties that will differentiate them from competing solutions,” he said.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

 

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Lord Carter wrote at 1/31/2017 1:31:45 PM:

Bob and Leslie are the special kind of special. Bless.

Suzanne wrote at 9/29/2016 2:38:14 AM:

Actually it is graphene, and did we read the same article:GRAFYLON 3D exhibited excellent thermal conduction properties, and was very elastic – with elasticity improving by 34 percent and elongation properties increasing by 28 percent. At the same time, GRAFYLON 3D features a tensile strength that is 23 percent higher than other materials, while it also exhibited excellent surface quality.

Leslie Adams wrote at 9/27/2016 5:47:51 PM:

This is a pretty cool looking product, but there are no real benefits of this material, or at least it is not mentioned in the article. The additives are not graphene, but carbon. Unless it is significantly stronger or at the very least electrically conductive then I will not be buying.

Bob wrote at 9/26/2016 3:39:16 PM:

and what benefit does it bring to PLA ?



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