Desktop Metal™, a global leader in additive manufacturing technologies for mass production, has unveiled FreeFoam™, a new family of photopolymer resins that produce durable and dimensionally accurate closed-cell foam parts without tooling – delivering all-new benefits for the automotive, furnishing, footwear, sporting goods, health care and other industries.
FreeFoam™ was invented and developed by Texas-based Adaptive3D, a leader in premium photopolymer and elastomer development and a subsidiary of Desktop Metal. The revolutionary FreeFoam resins are 3D printed similar to other photopolymers using DLP (Digital Light Processing). After 3D printing, FreeFoam parts can be expanded on-demand during a brief heating cycle in an oven at approximately 160-170°C (320-340°F).
The printed parts contain dispersed heat-activated foaming agents that create closed-cell pores inside the material. The highly controllable process causes FreeFoam resins to consistently expand 2 to 7 times their as-printed sizes, depending on the grade of resin, achieving final parts within desired tolerances.
This all-new process allows 3D printers to produce much larger final foam parts than the printers’ original build areas. Foam products will be shipped at compact sizes and expanded at the final point of assembly or commercial use.
FreeFoam™ is part of the recently launched DuraChain™ category of one-part, one-pot photopolymers that deliver breakthrough elastic and tough material properties through a Photo Polymerization-Induced Phase Separation process. When illuminated during the DLP printing, these materials phase separate at the nano level into a material that cures into a resilient, high-performance polymer network. DuraChain enables FreeFoam parts to be foamed with control in an oven without a mold.
“FreeFoam is one of the most exciting and commercially significant photopolymer solutions to come to market in the industrial printing space in years,” said Ric Fulop, Founder and CEO of Desktop Metal. “The market for conventionally manufactured foam has many challenges – from expensive molds that limit designs, to dense and heavy foams that absorb water and are expensive to ship and drive, to the inability to easily dial in strength and Shore hardness values in specific foam designs.
Let’s sum up the benefits of using FreeFrom™ resin:
- You can save shipping and inventory costs due to the fact that this innovative material can be programmed to expand a specific amount between 2 to 7 times its original printed size
- Extraordinary advantages for the automotive, furnishing, footwear, sporting goods, health care and other industries. FreeFoam™ is a true foam containing closed cells that can be printed in a lattice up to a fully dense design
- Eliminate expensive tooling and the waste associated with standard foam production
- It enables new freedom of design
- It delivers a high strength-to-weight ratio that produces light, high-performing parts
You can 3D print FreeFoam™ parts on ETEC Xtreme 8K top-down DLP system from Desktop Metal.