Düsseldorf, Germany — South Korean conglomerate SK Chemicals Co. Ltd. used K 2016 to introduce a range of materials for 3-D printing that it says are more environmentally friendly or perform better than traditional grades of plastics used in that market.
Seoul-based SK said the materials, launched under the name Skyplete, use various copolyesters, engineering elastomers, PLA and compounds. Traditionally, it said, 3-D printing materials use PLA, ABS and nylon 11.
The company began to introduce some grades of the materials a year ago but K 2016 in Düsseldorf was the first trade show and concentrated rollout of the series. The website for the Skyplete brand went live at the event.
“We are trying to penetrate the different areas in terms of functionality that conventional PLA and ABS cannot cover,” said Brian Oh, head of the business development team in the Green Chemicals Business unit for SK.
For example, the company said its EN100 grade of PLA-based compounds in the new series has a heat-resistance temperature of 100°C, compared with 55°C for conventional PLA.
And it said its S series in Skyplete includes 100 percent bio-based PLA content for selective laser sintering additive manufacturing, a market typically served by nylons.
The company is trying to position the Skyplete products as friendlier to human health than materials typically used in 3-D printing, because they do not have the styrene monomer found in ABS or the bisphenol A found in some grades of polycarbonate, another material that it said compounders are trying to develop for 3-D printing.
Oh said in a statement that Skyplete is designed to meet higher performance requirements for “more precise and durable 3-D printed objects such as prototypes, health care, education and engineering parts, with much less concern on human safety caused by health-hazardous ingredients.”
Antonio Park, SK's manager of the business development team in its Green Chemicals Business unit, said the materials are designed both for personal or academic users of additive manufacturing and industrial users.
At K, the company had a MakerBot Replicator 2X 3-D printer in its booth making parts with its materials.
“Right now it is a nice market, but we think the growth rate is huge,” Oh said. “But the industry is very fragmented.”
The United States is its biggest market for SK's 3-D printing materials, he said.