3D Printing developers German RepRap have unveiled a new material, which they claim will enable prototypes to be produced quickly and inexpensively. The TPU 93 (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) filament is a soft, UV and ozone-resistant plastic which is suitable for products including cable sheathing or soft-touch surfaces in vehicle interiors due to its resistance to abrasion and weathering.
Perhaps the TPU’s stand-out characteristic is its extreme flexibility (achieving a 500% stretch at breaking point and a Shore hardness of 93) making it more resistant to oils and greases than TPE and more elastic than soft PLA; these are two other materials which are used in flexible filaments. Moreover, the material is also suitable for medical applications due to its high resistance to micro-organisms.
The material has been optimised for an easy filament feed, allowing for an excellent flow and speedy processing at a temperature of 190-215o C without a heated build platform. The TPU requires extruders with a gapless filament feed, such as the DD3 extruder, which German RepRap uses on its X350.
At a cost of 62.85€ (plus VAT) for a 1kg roll, the TPU filament is available with a 1.75mm diameter on the German RepRap website and other authorised dealers world-wide.