In an interesting development for the 3D printing movement, a global leader in the development of proprietary plastic compounds for use in bearings and linear guides is now marketing a 3D printer filament.
Igus, which is based in Cologne, Germany, announced at the Hannover Fair that it has been researching the 3D printer filament field to provide its customers with the ability to design custom parts or manufacture prototypes. Igus is no stranger to 3D printers: its bearings play a key role in their performance.
The new material is described as the first filament for 3D printers specifically developed for dynamic applications. It is said to be up to 50 times more abrasion-resistant than conventional 3D printer materials. The filament will be produced with spool diameters of 1.75 mm and 3.00 mm. There will also be starter kits with approx. 25 g material for initial trials.
Cost: Very expensive. No specifics divulged.
Materials’ technology: Proprietary. According to company literature, base materials it uses for bearings include polyamide 6, 66 and PEEK (polyetheretherketone).
The company pioneered the use of plastics for bearings, overcoming concerns by design engineers long used to metals and burned by early versions of poor-performing plastics. It is now a very large captive injection molder, operating 300 injection molding machines in Germany. Igus makes all of its own tooling.
Günter Blase started igus in1964 in a garage in the Cologne area. His first order was a valve cone for use in carburetors. His first press was a sewing-machine sized injection molding machine from Arburg. In 1998, Arburg developed a “silent injection molding machine” at the request of igus.
The goals of igus products are to make machines last longer, reduce maintenance and eliminate lubrication as much as possible.