Additive manufacturing is maturing rapidly as the crescendo of over-hype has died down and real applications finally emerge. The International Plastics Showcase (NPE) will bring together leading companies within the 3D printing landscape. ADMET will look to contribute to the industry with its rich history of material testing know-how.

Tensile, compressive, and flexural strength are all critical aspects in the selection of plastic material. The plastic must not only be easily moldable, but must also withstand the test of temperature and time. Specifications such as yield strength and Poisson’s ratio can be radically altered when moving from a traditional injection molded process to stereolithography or a similar 3D print process. With the industry now boasting 7 generally accepted additive manufacturing techniques, all are surely to produce different results in terms of final product performance.

ADMET anticipates strong demand resulting from applications involving 3D printing. Instead of the traditional destructive tests to failure on mundane standard sampling (dogbones), new tests for 3D printed parts will focus heavily on minimum requirement testing of the final product. First run batches of final products will be tested in order to ensure compliance, rather than plastics processors relying on material data sheets from their suppliers in order to predict performance.

The ASTM committee F42, specially tasked for writing the specifications for additive manufacturing, has been releasing standards for 3D printing since its inception in 2009. While the committee is thought leading, they only meet twice a year, meaning standards are lagging the market by at least 6 months. The latest method, F3091M – 14, characterizes powder bed fusion of plastic materials which is not the most popular additive manufacturing technique for plastics. With the rapid growth of additive manufacturing, OEMs, suppliers and end users are scrambling for reliable ways to test their products. ADMET is aligning in order to fill this market need, and forecasts that 3d printed material testing applications will center more around the final product than on initial material characterization.

Real world testing on final products is much different than the test methods used in initial material characterization. While tensile and compression tests give engineers a strong understanding of how a plastic will behave under a certain load strain, real world use cases often involve forces exerted along multiple axis’. ADMET has developed an easy to use torsional bi-axial Universal Testing Machine (UTM) in order to address this very issue. In the real world it is much more likely that a plastic part is twisted and pulled during a singular event which is why bi-axial testing is the more relevant test method.

As 3D printing continues to gain mass-market adoption, ADMET will continue to provide the market with easy to use and cost competitive equipment for mechanical testing. The key differentiator for ADMET is our know-how and customer support. Each ADMET system includes lifetime application support which unlocks a vast and valuable resource for our customers. As NPE 2015 approaches we hope that everyone enjoys the show and uses this time to push plastics technology forward!

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