Solvay Sinterline Plenum
Solvay's 3D printed Sinterline Plenum which featured in the Polimotor 2 engine
Solvay have this week pledged their commitment to taking a leadership role in the aligning of speciality polymers and engineering plastics with 3D printing technologies.
The international chemical group announced their intentions at K 2016, the plastic and rubber trade fair held in Dusseldorf.
As part of this commitment, Solvay have opened a new laboratory at its Research and Innovation Centre in Alpharetta, Georgia, building on the already-established Additive Manufacturing (AM) technical centre and Sinterline Technyl production facility. They are also creating a network of solution providers across the AM value chain, from universities to equipment manufacturers.
Solvay’s expanding 3D printing capabilities are part of the company’s global leadership in advanced light-weighting solutions to replace metals. The group have so far worked to reduce the weight of motor vehicles and planes, reducing CO2 emissions and waste.
Head of Additive Manufacturing for Solvay’s Speciality Polymers Global Business Unit, Brian Alexander, emphasised Solvay’s determination to lead the way in the aligning of speciality polymers with AM.
He said: “Additive Manufacturing has emerged as a complementary plastics conversion technology of its own right and is increasingly advancing the particular needs of highly complex parts not possible through conventional melt processes.
“As the processes and equipment develop, there is still a lack of reliable high performance materials sourcing and standardisation. Solvay is determined to play a leading role in expanding the available polymer choice and optimising the supply chain for AM based on a solid understanding of the technology and comprehensive customer support.”
Solvay’s materials have already contributed to a 3D printed part for the Polimotor 2 all-plastic engine. Designed and developed by Matti Holtzberg, it aims to leverage advanced polymer technology to develop a four-cylinder, double-overhead CAM engine weighing approximately 40kg less than standard production engines.
Further exploring how AM might extend its value beyond prototype parts, Solvay is conducting a number of studies including a comparative evaluation of the tensile properties of samples that were 3D printed and injection moulded from KetaSpire KT-820 PEEK.
The outcome of the first evaluation suggests the 3D printed parts will be able to meet the demanding performance requirements for these applications. These findings were echoed at Solvay’s technical centre in Lyon where additional material characterisation and prototype validation is underway for 3D printed functional prototypes fabricated from Sinterline Technyl PA6.
Dominique Giannotta, Sinterline Program Leader for Solvay’s Engineering Plastics Business Unit said: “A recent study of the plenum for the Polimotor 2 project confirmed that AM offers a significant, yet grossly under-utilised potential for light-weighting and complex design, even beyond the scope of injection moulding.
“However, to fully take advantage of this powerful potential, industrial designers must begin to conceive parts for additive manufacturing from day one.”