The pros and cons of 3D printing with polypropylene

What 3D printing material fascinates you the most? What material is your go-to? What material are you interested in exploring? Additive manufacturing today includes a wide variety of material options, whether it’s ceramic, metal, concrete, or PLA the list really goes on.  Today we will focus polypropylene (PP), a semi-crystalline material belonging to the family of polyolefins, also known as polyalkenes.

“Polypropylene is a semi-crystalline thermoplastic, i.e. it has an ordered molecular structure with very precise melting points, unlike amorphous materials which soften gradually as the temperature rises. This structure influences its crystallinity and orientation. Didier Fonta, Director of Operations at Pollen AM, explains: “Polypropylene has very clear melting points and will be very demanding in terms of its transformation. This is why temperature fluctuations have to be limited in order to regain homogeneous properties.” Depending on the polymerization conditions (temperature, pressure and reagent concentrations) different grades of polypropylene can be obtained. There are currently 3 forms of polypropylene which depend on the arrangement of the methyl groups in relation to the plane of the main carbon chain.”

Like any material, Polypropylene  has its  own set of advantages and disadvantages. It isn’t incredibly easy to 3D print with, which is why the material hasn’t quite taken off in the 3D printing sector.

“To optimize the process of transforming polypropylene into 3D printing, Pollen AM, in collaboration with the Total Group, has developed new extruders that allow PP to be processed more fairly and to obtain functional, high-quality parts.”

“The new extruders developed have new functionalities and are now customizable (alloys, surface treatment, shear/compression rates, etc.). Pollen AM has adapted the various components of the Pam extruders to allow better processing of semi-crystalline materials. The extruders developed, known as “Hight Shear” extruders, integrate several software, mechanical and electronic optimizations. New sheaths, augers and extrusion dies have been developed, adapted to the manufacturer’s software and electronics to enable users of Pam technology to benefit from a solution that can be adapted to project and material requirements.”

Interested in learning more about polypropylene’s future in the 3D printing world? Grab the full article here.

Categories: Design & Process