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Stratasys Develops PEKK for ESD-safe 3D Printed Space Components

Published on 2016-02-08. Author : SpecialChem

Stratasys Ltd.
Fig. 1: Stratasys Ltd.

Many components in the space, electronics and other industries require surrounding materials to be electrostatic discharge (ESD) safe to prevent damage from static discharge. Stratasys has developed an industry-tailored material for these components using a PEKK (polyetherketoneketone) base resin to combine ESD properties and chemical resistance with suitable mechanical and thermal properties.

Capability Background


Many advanced electronics applications rely on parts that dissipate electrostatic charge buildup. Historically, engineers and material scientists have used various approaches to deal with this buildup
of electric potential, including controlling the exit path of the charge or using a material that naturally dissipates the charge buildup. Commercially available neat thermoplastic resins are normally considered electrically insulating, and are therefore not typically used in applications that are susceptible to electrostatic induction. Additively manufactured components, replacing traditionally machined or metallic versions, offer reduced weight, part cost production and increased design freedom, justifying the cost of change despite not meeting dissipative properties. Under this
scenario, several post-processing methods can be used to achieve ESD properties:
1. Painting or coating to meet resistance requirements
2. Covering with a conductive tape
3. Wrapping with carbon-filled or aluminum-coated films
Avionics Box Made from Stratasys' ESD PEKK
Fig. 2: Avionics Box Made from Stratasys' ESD PEKK

These techniques achieve electrostatic dissipative control, but additional labor is needed which limits the advantages gained from additive manufacturing. This fostered the development of ESD-compliant thermoplastics such as Stratasys ABS-ESD7™. Building on its success, the need for an elevated-temperature, high-performance ESD material was identified. Industry experience with ULTEM™ 9085 resin and ABS-ESD7 provided insight into effective and desirable material properties.

ULTEM 9085 resin has favorable mechanical properties like tensile strength, elongation, and tensile modulus. But it also comes with high post-processing costs to comply with ESD requirements. ABS-ESD7 meets ESD requirements and works well for rapid prototyping and tooling, but cannot be transitioned into the production environment due to insufficient thermal and mechanical properties.

As a new material offering, Stratasys created an ESD PEKK (dissipative polyetherketoneketone) material, combining the favorable properties of both materials. The PEKK base resin meets the necessary structural and temperature requirements and incorporates a conductive filler to meet the dissipative requirement (106 – 109 Ω/sq). Although this material formulation was developed in collaboration with the space and electronics industries, it is applicable to the wider market for applications requiring strong mechanical properties, high temperature resistance, ESD control and excellent chemical resistance.

Software


ESD PEKK is currently available to run on Fortus® 3D Printers in a similar manner to that of currently available materials for these machines. ESD PEKK is an engineered material that has not yetbeen commercialized by Stratasys and it will run as an R&D material on existing Fortus systems. Purchasing a material software license will enable the R&D material option and the ESD PEKK material parameters will be uploaded to the machine. A custom Insight™ software parameter file for the R&D material is also needed and can easily be added to existing Insight installations. Enabling the R&D material will not affect current material options or parameters enabled on the machine.

About Stratasys


For more than 25 years, Stratasys Ltd. has been a defining force and dominant player in 3D printing and additive manufacturing - shaping the way things are made. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel, the company empowers customers across a broad range of vertical markets by enabling new paradigms for design and manufacturing. The company's solutions provide customers with unmatched design freedom and manufacturing flexibility - reducing time-to-market and lowering development costs, while improving designs and communications.

Source: Stratasys

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