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People of 3D Printing

What is TPU?

Introduction

Additive manufacturing is now offering a large catalog of 3D printing materials, allowing new possibilities in terms of applications. Even the most technical applications can now make the most of additive manufacturing. Today, we will focus on an impressive flexible 3D printing material: TPU. What is the material, and how can we use it for additive manufacturing? What are the applications, and which opportunities can TPU offer to your business? Let’s see how Sculpteo’s 3D printing service can offer you some great possibilities to 3D print flexible parts.

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What is TPU material?

TPU stands for Thermoplastic Polyurethane, which is an engineering polymer material with superior performance. The particularities of this material are its resistance and its flexibility (Shore A 88). Thanks to the unique properties of this material, this thermoplastic is offering a lot of different possibilities for designers, engineers, and manufacturers. 

This material is made to meet industry-specific quality standards. Our flexible TPU offers versatility and great mechanical properties. You will be able to manufacture strong and durable performance parts, combined with excellent surface quality and level of detail. 

This Thermoplastic Polyurethane material can be used for many different applications and its unique characteristics make it a perfect fit for serial production. All parts requiring the use of a rubber-like elasticity or flexible lattices can easily be 3D printed with this material.

Do you need a material with high flexibility? Is your project requiring rubber-like properties, or shock absorption and rebound abilities? With its 63% rebound resilience, this 3D printing material might surprise you.

3D printing TPU : A material offering endless possibilities

What are the advantages of 3D printing TPU?

Combining the advantages of 3D printing and TPU can open up new opportunities for your business. Implement flexibility in both your manufacturing process and your products. 

  • Create flexible prototypes

Additive manufacturing is an efficient prototyping method. You just need to create a 3D model of your project to get it 3D printed, no molding required! This technique is perfect for developing different iterations of the same product.  

Additive Manufacturing is fast and produces your prototypes in no time. That’s an obvious advantage while running a business and developing a project, time is money, especially when it comes to prototyping. The faster you can test new design solutions, the quicker you can adjust your design and move on to the manufacturing process of your final product. Thanks to new advanced materials such as TPU, you can give your prototypes new properties and create strong functional prototypes.

  • Production

3D printing is a really cost-effective technique if you are willing to manufacture small volumes, but serial production starts to be more and more appealing with this cutting-edge technology. With the development of new technical materials such as TPU, production is becoming one of the main applications of additive manufacturing. 

Producing your projects using 3D printing is a way to rethink your supply-chain. Your flexible parts can be produced on-demand, and you can easily start to make the most of a digital inventory. No need to store your flexible part anymore, additive manufacturing allows you to choose precisely the size of your batch, you can get one or several parts when you need them.  

  • Mass customization

While using additive manufacturing, mass customization becomes an easy process. Indeed, if customization can be difficult and expensive while using manufacturing techniques such as injection molding, it is becoming easy and cost-effective with 3D printing technology. 

Creating adapted products is really the key in some sectors. If you need made-to-measure flexible parts, 3D printing TPU will be the perfect solution. Offering custom-made products and a custom-made experience to your clients will be a real competitive advantage for your business.

  • Freedom of design

3D printing is the perfect manufacturing technique to benefit from a great freedom of design.  Creating complex geometries and intricate designs impossible to manufacture with traditional manufacturing techniques is a big advantage. By creating an interesting structural design, parts can be 3D printed for various applications, from automotive to footwear industries. With TPU, 3D printing helps to get parts with varying flexibility, depending on the different zones and thicknesses. It allows to manufacture ligther parts that can easily be integrated in environments where this criterion is at stake, like automotive or aeronautics. 

TPU is also an ideal material to create complex and flexible lattice structures, which can be used to create shoe parts such as orthopedic midsoles! These interesting structures can also be used to reduce the weight of your products, which is essential in various sectors.

High Performance materials

Using an online 3D printing service to manufacture TPU parts

Implementing 3D printing in an existing process is not that easy, and professional 3D printers expensive and require experienced operators to get quality parts. At Sculpteo we specialize in industrial Additive Manufacturing to scale your production. Do you want to give TPU a try? Sculpteo’s online 3D printing service is offering the opportunity to get your parts 3D printed using TPU: 

 

  • Ultrasint® TPU01: With this material, TPU parts are grey and 3D printed using Multi Jet Fusion technology. This TPU developed by HP delivers a high rebound, low compression set, good fatigue behavior, and fits perfectly for serial production. The maximum size of your object will be 300 x 300 x 300 mm, and the minimum wall thickness required is 0.8mm.
 
  • Ultrasint® TPU 88A:  With this material, TPU parts are white and 3D printed using Selective Laser Sintering technology. With a good resilience after deformation and a high UV stability, this SLS TPU offers numerous advantages for your projects requiring an elastomeric material. The maximum size of your object will be 274x 270 x 300 mm, and the minimum wall thickness required is 0.8mm.

Before sending your 3D model for 3D printing, be sure to check the material guide of these TPUs and respect their design guidelines. This way, you will ensure the success of your 3D printing experience and get the best result possible.

Get your 3D printed TPU parts in a few days using our online professional service. Don’t hesitate to contact our sales team for more information about this material or our other offers. Our 3D printing experts are here to help you develop your 3D printing opportunities and take your business to the next level!

What are the applications of 3D printed TPU?

Thanks to its resistance and its flexibility, TPU material can be used for diverse applications. This plastic material offers durable, strong, and flexible parts. TPU is a perfect 3D printing material choice if you need to produce parts requiring shock absorption, high elasticity, and energy return. 


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Automotive sector

A lot of interesting high-perfomance 3D materials arrived on the 3D printing market these last years: all of them are offering new properties normally attributed to injection molding. These new materials are now meeting the requirements of demanding industries such as the automotive sector. With its flexibility, TPU 3D printing material can also be used in the automotive industry, to create car interior components, but also air filter covers, bellows gimbal, or any flexible and resistant parts needed in the development of a car. 

Industrial uses

TPU is a strong and abrasion resistant plastic material and can be 3D printed to create industrial tools or pipes for example. It also offers high friction possibilities, allowing to 3D print grippers. All these advantages can be used for robotic or industrial uses. Even if they are flexibles, these TPU 3D printed parts have great resistance to impact, stress, and fatigue.

You could need to 3D print flexible part in order to connect to parts. Indeed, you could certainly glue your components but designing flexible parts will help you reduce your assembly time. Do you want to create 3D printed joints? Follow our tutorial to learn how to make 3D printed joints and snap fits in order to connect two parts. See how you could create these design features by yourself!

Footwear

Thanks to its quality, high flexibility, shock absorption, and rebound, our TPU can be used to manufacture footwear and orthopedic models. A running shoe can also be partially created with 3D printing technology. Actually, the midsoles of running shoes are particularly suitable for 3D printing. 

Big shoe manufacturers are using additive manufacturing, brands like Adidas, Nike, New Balance and Under Armor have already printed sneakers. This process is particularly interesting for customization, that is why it can also be ideal to develop made to measure orthopedic midsoles!

Sport equipments and protections

Additive manufacturing is more and more present in the sport environment. The main reason of that is obviously: mass customization. Indeed, 3D printing technology is perfect to create customized items that totally benefit athletes. 

They obviously need the best equipment to focus on their performances and give the best of themselves. Protections, midsoles can be perfectly adapted to their morphology and ensure them the best protection possible.

  

 

Fashion projects

The fashion sector is also making the most of the advantages of both additive manufacturing and advanced materials such as TPU. Clothes can be 3D printed using this flexible thermoplastic in order to respond to the movements of the body. 

Moreover, 3D printing process is a good way to give life to objects with really complex designs and to make them wearable as traditional garments. Moreover, our TPU material is ok for skin contact.

Do you want to talk about your 3D printing project with our 3D printing experts? Start to identify your 3D printing opportunities right now and make the most of additive manufacturing by contacting our sales team

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