Evonik is further expanding its business in the area of additive manufacturing. The specialty chemicals company has opened a new technology center for 3D printing in Austin, Texas. The U.S. site will play a key role within Evonik’s global innovation network in the development of new, ready-to-use materials for powder bed fusion manufactured by the Structured Polymers technology.
The market for 3D printing is booming with growth rates in the double-digits. Evonik is the world leader in the production of polyamide 12 (PA 12) powders, which have been used in additive manufacturing for more than 20 years. In addition to polyamide 12 or polyamide 613, other products such as flexible PEBA powders, GMP-quality biomaterials for medical technology, and a whole range of additives and components such as dispersants, flow improvers, and reactive modifiers and nanocomposites extend the product portfolio.
Evonik’s new Center for Structured Polymers Technology comprises an application technology laboratory with 3D printers and a processing area, a research and development laboratory, production rooms and associated office areas as well as meeting rooms. The building complex has modern air extraction systems, meets the highest safety standards and complies with applicable workplace ergonomics standards.
“The new Technology Center continues the success story of Structured Polymers under the umbrella of Evonik. We have now created the necessary framework to establish this advanced technology for the production of 3D printable polymer powders on the market,” says Thomas Große-Puppendahl, head of the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Growth Field at Evonik.
Vikram Devarajan, managing director of the 3D Printing Technology Center in Austin, Texas, adds: “By expanding our capabilities in North America, we are sending an important signal to our partners in the region that we can now better support them with new technological opportunities in materials development right in their own backyard.”
In January 2019, Evonik acquired Structured Polymers Inc., a U.S.-based start-up for 3D printing materials, after having invested in the company two years earlier through its venture capital unit. This gave the Group access to a new patented technology with the declared aim of expanding the existing product portfolio of special polymer powders for additive manufacturing. Structured Polymers’ technology is based on a polymer granulate that is processed into fine powder material in various steps. In this process, polymer powders can be produced in controlled particle sizes with a diameter range of 0.1 – 400 μm while, at the same time, offering very good material properties.
As a result of the acquisition, the first ready-to-use powder materials were introduced to the market in late-2019: two thermoplastic elastomers based on innovative copolyesters for powder-based 3D printing technologies. Both products exhibit high elasticity and flexibility combined with good resilience, remain tough and flexible after the printing process without compromising surface quality and are available in white or black, depending on the application.