Materials firm Techmer PM recently provided high-temperature polymers containing carbon fiber for 3D printing of tooling equipment.
Clinton, Tenn.-based Techmer worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Boeing Co., TruDesign, and BASF on the 3D printed tooling project. Company officials said in a news release that while the aerospace industry "has led the paradigm shift" to 3D printed tooling, the automotive sector "is also now investing in this promising area."
3D printed tools made with the Techmer materials are designed for large-scale transportation and industrial applications, in addition to aerospace and military. ORNL did the 3D printing work. During testing, the 3D printed tools withstood temperatures of more than 355° F and of pressures of 90 pounds per square inch.
"We're very pleased with the results of this collaboration," emerging markets and innovation vice president Tom Drye said in the release. He added that the project demonstrated how 3D printing generates time and cost savings, operational efficiencies and design freedom.
Production time and cost associated with additive manufacturing is one-fifth to one-tenth that of conventional tooling methods, which typically require up to a 12-month lead time to procure the feedstock and machine metal tooling, officials said.
Techmer ranks as one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers, according to a Plastics News industry estimate. The firm was recognized on PN's Best Places to Work list in 2014 and 2016.