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Flame retardant materials: Focus on Ultrasint® PA6 FR

Introduction

Fire and flame retardant materials are needed when there is a fire risk, but also in situations where heat resistant materials are required! Materials with advanced properties ensure the viability of a product, the security of the consumer, or during the final use of the product. Does your project require a flame retardant material? Several options are available, and one of them is possible thanks to 3D printing. We can see the quick development of additive manufacturing with an interesting high-performance material. It is actually possible to manufacture parts using Ultrasint® PA6 FR, an advanced polymer containing a flame retardant additive.

We will see what fire retardant means, the advantages of manufacturing using flame retardant materials, and the possibilities offered by additive manufacturing to create parts with these properties.

Manufacturing using flame retardant materials

What is a flame retardant material?

The term flame retardants includes a diverse group of chemicals that can be added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, but also surface finishes and coatings. This specific flame retardant additive is intended to prevent or slow the further development of ignition by a variety of different physical and chemical methods. A flame retardant object close to the fire will have a slower combustion reaction, but will still get burnt. Moreover, these materials don’t spread the flame.

To enable these materials to slow the spread of fire the additive may be added as a copolymer during the polymerization process, but it can also be added later to the polymer. Numerous industries need to use fire-retardant materials, or more exactly, materials with a flame retardant additive, for the security of their product, but also for consumer safety. 

With the rise of electronic devices and consumer products, fire safety is important, we are actually surrounded by flame-retardant materials. Manufacturers are looking for materials with higher properties.

Is it possible to 3D print a flame retardant material?

The additive manufacturing industry is now offering the possibility to use high-performance materials, materials meeting the requirement of demanding industries thanks to their advanced mechanical properties. For example, Ultrasint® PA6 FR, or Ultrasint® PA6 CF or Ultrasint® PA11 ESF, etc. these materials are perfectly suited for advanced applications thanks to their high thermal resistance, flexibility, or strength. 

Special focus: What is Ultrasint® PA6 FR?

Ultrasint® PA6 FR is a Halogen-Free Flame-Retardant PA6 powder for advanced applications. This Ultrasint® PA6 FR is an engineering polymer powder made with an innovative formula, containing a flame-retardant (FR) additive. With its halogen-free formulation based on PA6, this 3D printing material is unique, offering new possibilities for a wide range of new applications from the electronics to public transportation sectors. With a 41 MPa tensile strength, a 2500 MPa young’s modulus and an HDT B (Heat Deflection Temperature) of 207°C, it is combining excellent mechanical and thermal performance with flammability requirements. 

Demanding sectors require specific materials, and combining the mechanical properties of this material with the advantages of 3D printing could help the development of your future projects. Let’s see how!

pa6 fr flame retardant

What are the applications of Ultrasint® PA6FR?

Ultrasint® PA6 FR is an ally for your mechanical applications. PA6 FR is a flame retardant material also offering impressive mechanical properties and, new possibilities for a wide-range of applications for any flammability-sensitive use cases. 

If this is the perfect material for high-temperature applications, it is also perfectly suited for the creation of jigs and fixtures for cable and pipes, and flow storage. Let’s see a bit more in detail which industries with flammability standards could benefit from this material. 

Automotive and transportation industries

Ultrasint® PA6 FR can be used for buses and transport, the ECE-R 118 App.7 test for use in public buses successfully passed. Ultrasint® PA6 FR is the perfect 3D printing material to use for flammability-sensitive application fields, thanks to its V2 rating (UL 94V) and its Glow Wire Flammability Index (GWFI) up to 960 °C. Using this material for public transportation is also increasing passengers’ safety.

Advantages of additive manufacturing for the automotive industry are numerous, combined with the use of this advanced flame resisting material, you can expect great results. Additive manufacturing is an efficient method to reduce the weight of parts. Weight is a crucial point for car manufacturers, but also in industries such as aerospace. Car manufacturers are always looking for new ways to reduce their product’s weight. Indeed, a lighter car consumes less fuel, which makes it more environmentally-friendly. To do so, you can optimize the design of your parts. For instance, Volkswagen optimally redesigned a reinforced A-pillar window support. It weighs 74% less than the original part. You can either create lighter structures thanks to innovative design patterns such as lattices or reduce the number of parts of the car thanks to a more suited design of the components. It is a way of both exploring design possibility and improving the product itself.

Using additive manufacturing and more specifically design for additive manufacturing, it is possible to significantly reduce the assembly process, by an all-in-one part. 3D printing offers the possibility to manufacture complex geometries, designs impossible to make with traditional manufacturing techniques.

3D printing can also be useful for the replacement of spare parts. If some parts of a car get broken, replacing them can be a true challenge, especially if it’s an old one: the parts might not exist anymore. What to do then? By combining 3D scanning and additive manufacturing, it’s possible to reproduce rare spare parts for cars, and even to optimize them before 3D printing.

Electronic industry

This high-performance material can be used for electronics projects, it has a UL 94 V-2 rating starting at 0.8 mm, and it has a Glow Wire Flammability Index (GWFI) up to 960 °C. Ultrasint® PA6 FR is the perfect material to manufacture switchboard parts and any other electronic components.

Additive manufacturing has a lot to offer to the electronics industry. 3D printing helps you get from the idea to the product in a matter of days and allows you to create high-quality casings for your devices with the highest level of details. They will perfectly match your electronics components such as a circuit board. Rapid prototyping is also made easy thanks to the 3D printing process and will allow you to build the best product designs.

No stock, no minimum number of units and short turnaround are the key upsides of using Sculpteo’s 3D printing service for your electronic devices, regardless of where they are in product life cycle management. Electronic production is made easy thanks to our 3D printing technology and will improve and simplify your whole supply chain management! 3D printing and electronics are strongly linked. Online 3D printing allows you to create a new kind of relationship with your clients. You can easily produce small series, limited editions and spare parts in a small batch.

Electronic components production can now be thought in terms of 3D design and not only 2D, with new ways of stacking the circuits, opening new possibilities to design for electronics! Customization is becoming a big asset while using additive manufacturing for the creation of your products: you can create parts perfectly adapted to a circuit board or any electronic device. 3D printing can be used to create personalized electronic enclosures, USB stick cases, and keyboards, for example.

Using additive manufacturing also offers you flexibility in the creation of your design.

Example: The air duct project

This air duct has been 3D printed by BASF using Ultrasint® PA6 FR and was specially developed to combine lightweight design with optimum airflow behavior.

This part is a perfect example of the benefits offered by design for additive manufacturing, the goal of this design is to create optimized airflow patterns, leading to a much lower pressure drop compared to conventional designs. 

Moreover, this air duct can easily be adapted to any other individual assembly situation, direction, or the number of nozzles! As Ultrasint® PA6 FR material is resistant to high temperatures, it is allowing a long time of operation! 

Don’t wait any longer, start combining the benefits of additive manufacturing and of high-performance with fire-resistant capabilities.

Do you have a 3D printing project? Partner with Sculpteo!

Are you interested in the special characteristics of this flame retardant material? It might be time to implement these materials into your process. Optimized products and manufacturing flexibility are just a few clicks away: upload your 3D file on our online 3D printing service or contact our sales team to talk more specifically about your projects.


If you are not using additive manufacturing yet and want to give this technology a try, contact Sculpteo Studio to identify your additive manufacturing opportunities and choose the best technology and material for your project.

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