ULTEM Polyetherimide (PEI) is a high-performance polymer that is amorphous. It offers superb thermal properties, a high-level of dimensional stability, extreme flame retardancy and excellent resistance to a lot of chemicals. So ULTEM materials provides many features making it beneficial to use in a wide range of industries.
The material is for example utilized in the aerospace industry, the automotive and medical industry. ULTEM material is used in these industries because of its ability to handle demanding applications in a way that other thermoplastics can’t handle. For instance for superior products where applications require a certain level of mechanical performance and flame retardancy (UL 94-VO rated).
|Heat resistance||Very high|
|Chemical resistance||Very high|
|Glass transition temperature||217 °C (423 °F)|
|Nozzle temperature||350 - 380 °C|
|Heated bed||120 - 150 °C|
|Heat resistant||Up to 120 °C|
What makes ULTEM material so unique?High thermal properties come with inherent flame resistance. Including a low smoke evolution and low smoke toxicity. It is known to be a material that helps to achieve a significant level of stability including long-term hydrolytic stability and dimensional stability. This includes low creep sensitivity and low, uniform coefficient of thermal expansion, while also making it possible to create highly reproducible part-to-part dimensions.
Even when ULTEM is exposed to high temperatures, it continues to behave in a way that delivers an exceptional level of strength and modulus. ULTEM is used in the automotive and aerospace industry due to the fact the material can withstand a lot of chemicals such as automotive fluids, fully halogenated hydrocarbons, alcohols and aqueous solutions. Over a wide range of temperatures and frequencies, ULTEM material also delivers a stable dielectric constant and dissipation.
ULTEM material is quite expensive and you need a well-performing high temperature 3D printer to get the expected result.
Certified for use in aircrafts
ULTEM has been certified for use in aircrafts thanks to its ability to deal with high temperatures. It has a very high level of heat resistance, which makes it perfect for applications in the airline industry.
”ULTEM 9085 is certified by FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) as flame retardant polymer for use in aircraft cabin.”
When it comes to printing with ULTEM, it is important to understand its strengths and weaknesses, but you also have to know how to get the most from this material. It is critical to take possible difficulties into account when deciding to start with ULTEM 3D printing. Therefore we share our 5 takeaways for printing with ULTEM material:
As ULTEM is used in industries where managing weight is vital, it is important to ensure that large parts are light. One example of this would be the aerospace industry and in particular large aircraft structures such as hollow wings and so, ULTEM material allows the implementation of a honeycomb structures, which can make the part even lighter. It is advised that a triangular internal fill pattern works best to achieve a smooth and hollow interior.
Self-supporting angles reduces cost and time. In that case you don’t need to use support structures. At these shallow angles the majority of the plastic layer is supported by the previous layer below it. Therefore, when 3D printing ULTEM material, you can create overhang angles up to 45 degrees. This is a good way to enhance time efficiency and to keep the cost of the material down. It also makes it possible to create complex geometries without being required to remove the breakaway support manually.
The temperature in the closed chamber of the 3D printer must remain even. Because ULTEM has an extremely high extrusion temperature, it is advised that you use a heated chamber. The warmth should be evenly distributed at all times, making sure temperature fluctuations are kept to a minimum. This is down to the fact that if there are any cool areas within the chamber, it will cause the ULTEM material to shrink in an uneven way. This results in warping and a lack of bonding to the previously printed layers.
Parts that are printed with ULTEM material can be annealed in a hot-air oven. Annealing accelerates the relief of internal stresses. If there are 3D printed-in stresses found, this can result in a less stronger part and can lead to mechanical issues.
The material needs to be stored in a cool and dark place, preferably in a sealed bag. By doing this,
you will preserve the quality of the ULTEM material and ensure that the result of the 3D printing process is as high as possible.
ULTEM material is used in the aerospace industry because of the impressive balance of flame retardancy, low smoke toxicity and low smoke emissions. Therefore, the material can be found in applications which include personal service units, oxygen panels, ventilation system components, connectors, cable ducts, latches, door handles and interior cladding parts.
Automotive manufactures require a high level of chemical resistance, ULTEM offers this. It is thermally stable and is known to be a cost effective alternative to metal where in some instances it has the ability to replace steel while also being light enough to be used in place of aluminum. It can also be found in transmission and ignition components, sensors, thermostat housings and throttle bodies.
Due to the high demanding requirements, ULTEM material is very well suited for electrical applications. Because of the ability to deal with the high demands, it will be found in connectors, MCB components such as shafts, levers and housings, the internals of hard disk drives, BiTS, PCB’s, MCCB internals, FOUP’s, Plenum Devices, LCD projector internals and fuel cell components.
With it’s great features ULTEM has been certified for use in food production products. Due to its resistance to heat, it can be found in the production of baking sheets, patterns, dies and fixtures. It is food contact certified (NSF 51) and is sterilizable.
Within the production of custom tools and fixtures ULTEM is getting more and more common. As high levels of durability can be found in this filament . It is also used in surgical guides and custom trays while it is biocompatible (USP Class VI/ISO 10993) and it is sterilizable.