Lansing advanced material producer XG Sciences Inc. and Terrafilum, a supplier of materials for 3-D printing in Illinois, are developing a new graphene-based material that has the potential to improve 3-D printing.
Graphene, which XG Sciences isolated and characterized in 2004, is harder than diamonds, and stronger and lighter than steel due to its molecular structure. Terrafilum is developing materials using graphene nanoplatelets due to their capabilities for energy storage, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, barrier properties, lubricity, and the ability to impart physical property improvements when incorporated into plastics, metals or other matrices.
“The full potential for 3-D printing is starting to be unlocked,” says Chris Jackson, president of Terrafilum. “The addition of XG’s graphene formulations into our eco-friendly filaments will transform products allowing a greater variety of parts to be created at faster production rates using less energy.”
The use of 3-D printing, so far, has been implemented for prototyping and limited-run production parts, but companies have been challenged to move into high-volume production due to material limitations such as direction specific structural weaknesses, a lack of conductivity, a sparse selection of robust filaments, an overall lack of part performance, and slow production times.
Graphene-enhanced filaments, the companies believe, will help solve product problems associated with fused deposition modeling printing, by enhancing z-direction strength, providing more robust parts, and creating overall lighter parts in less time.
“Marrying together well-established 3-D printing technologies with our graphene-enhanced formulations makes the material difference in resolving the two most limiting factors in 3-D printed parts, product strength, and processing speeds,” says Leroy Magwood, chief technologist for XG Sciences.