Oct 15, 2015 | By Tess

From day to day we see increasingly impressive uses of and applications of additive manufacturing in all sectors of life, ranging from the medical field, to engineering, to design, and even to play and gaming. There is little doubt that as it continues to grow and advance technologically, 3D printing will alter and even potentially revolutionize all levels of our production processes. While current developments in 3D printing technology have tended to focus on industrial mass production, optimizing 3D designs and increasing functionality, the matter of additive manufacturing materials is sometimes swept under the rug, so to speak. Fortunately, German based company, Covestro – formerly Bayer ScienceMaterial – has taken on the issue of 3D printing materials as they’ve dedicated themselves to developing innovative and high-quality materials to be used in 3D printing.

Covestro, which was until September of this year known as Bayer ScienceMaterial, is one of the world’s leading companies in the field of polymers. Dealing in polymers, they supply a variety of industries throughout the world, including the automotive, construction and electronic industries, as well as the furniture, textile, and even sporting goods industries. In 2014, the company saw sales of more than €11 billion, and they boast having almost 17,000 employees worldwide. In terms of their contribution to the world of additive manufacturing, Covestro are at the forefront of developing high-performance polymers, which include thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU), raw materials for polyurethane (PU) coatings and adhesives, and polycarbonates.

The materials developed at Covestro could be used in a variety of 3D printing methods and offer significant benefits over existing materials, such as PLA or ABS plastics. For instance, Covestro explains that TPU would be an excellent material to use for fused filament fabrication (FFF) in which a plastic filament is melted and dots of the liquid material are deposited on a surface where they are subsequently cooled and hardened, until a solid object is produced. TPU’s ability to melt and harden and creating permanent bonding between the 3D printed layers throughout the process make it an ideal material for the FFF method. Notably, and what sets it apart from other materials, are its abrasion resistance and elasticity.

Not only TPU, however, Covestro’s polycarbonate is an effective material for FFF 3D printing. Excitingly, Covestro have recently teamed up with Shanghai based company Polymaker and have launched a new line of polycarbonate based materials meant specifically for extrusion based desktop 3D printers, which use FDM/FFF methods. The launch of materials is significant as it means that people using desktop 3D printers now have the option of printing in higher-grade, more resistant materials.

 “The development of appropriate materials, in particular, plays a key role in the continued expansion of additive production methods,” explains Dr. Thomas Büsgen, Senior Project Manager 3D Printing Technology at Covestro. “We aim to enable significantly more functions than in the past.”

Covestro has not only begun developing materials for FFF manufacturing, however, as they have also taken into account such methods as Selective laser sintering (SLS). SLS works by using a laser beam to sinter a plastic powder material, and is popular in industrial additive manufacturing. In fact, Covestro have developed a TPU material called Desmosint for the specific purpose of SLS 3D printing. As their website explains, “Covestro developed the TPU material Desmosint® for this purpose a few years ago. The product is processed by partner Lehmann&Voss&Co. into a powder suitable for laser sintering and marketed under the trade name Luvosint®.”

Covestro’s material are marketed as being more beneficial than other, previously used materials, as they are less brittle, more elastic, and have smooth surfaces.

Covestro’s polyurethane products are also specially manufactured to be used with a binder jetting method as well as the rapid multijet fusion method. Additionally, Covestro’s polyurethane raw materials have the potential to be made into high-quality curing resins, either for stereolithography methods or even polymer jetting, both of which utilize UV radiation curing processes.

Covestro is a part of the Bayer Group, a German multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company which was founded in 1863. Apart from the production and development of high quality polymers, Bayer also does business in pharmaceuticals, healthcare products, and agricultural and biotechnological products.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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