California-based Airwolf 3D made a big announcement today, regarding a common 3D printing materials problem. Polypropylene is incredibly durable and cost effective, so it’s used often for automotive and other industrial applications. This type of plastic is extremely chemically resistant and almost completely waterproof, so it’s no mystery why it’s used in everything from carpets and bottles to automotive bumpers and chemical tanks. But it is notoriously difficult to work with in the 3D printing community, because polypropylene parts have a tendency to warp, or even completely fail to stick to the print bed. But Airwolf 3D has done the impossible, and provided a cost-effective way to 3D print these parts without having to worry about bed adhesion issues. Today, the company announced their release of Wolfbite ULTRA.
This premium solution was engineered specifically to solve the problem of polypropylene parts warping because they won’t adhere to a 3D printer’s build plate. Wolfbite ULTRA bonds polypropylene plastic parts to a build plate, which allows printing without lifting, and a smooth release of objects post-print. It works well with heated beds on all types and brands of 3D printers that utilize glass printing surfaces. Airwolf 3D is the manufacturer of the AXIOM 20, described as the only desktop 3D printer in its price class to effectively print polypropylene, introduced just last month. The company unveiled their AXIOM 2 3D printer at the beginning of this year, so they obviously haven’t slowed down their pace of innovation. They created Wolfbite ULTRA to meet the demands of customers who really need to be able to print using the high-performing polypropylene industrial material.
“Airwolf 3D is extremely fortunate to work with customers who are leaders and early adopters in their respective industries. When customers come to us with a problem, it gives us an opportunity to devise an innovative solution for them. We developed Wolfbite ULTRA, along with the new AXIOM 20 printer, in response to a surge of automotive customers asking us to help them 3D print in polypropylene. It is exciting to be at the forefront of a technology that will meet the growing demands of the automotive, engineering, and other manufacturing industries as more and more professionals adopt 3D printing as part of their work flow,” said Airwolf 3D Co-Founder and Lead Designer Erick Wolf.
This isn’t the first time Airwolf 3D has developed a way to get around a material warping during adhesion to the print bed. Less than a year ago, the company created Wolfbite NITRO Adhesive, which allows you to bond nylon and nylon alloy/polymer blend parts straight to glass 3D printer build plates without lifting. In fact, the original Wolfbite was developed back in 2014, to help bond ABS thermoplastic to the print bed. The new Wolfbite ULTRA was developed at Airwolf 3D through a collaboration with renowned polymer chemist and additive manufacturing expert Professor Miodrag Micic, Sc.D., Ph.D., M.T.M., department chairman at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA, who explained:
“Polypropylene, a completely saturated hydrocarbon macromolecule, is extremely difficult to bind and is virtually unreactive to anything. The new Wolfbite ULTRA is the first solution in the world to offer effective, reversible adhesion between the hydrophilic material of the printer bed, such as glass or borosillicate glass, and polypropylene parts. Furthermore, Wolfbite ULTRA is a water-based, ‘green’ chemistry solution and an environmentally safe product.”
“Many prototypes currently are 3D printed in ABS or PLA and are later transferred into manufacturing by injection molding polypropylene. For the first time, a user can rapid prototype a part from the same material used for the final product and have the ability to test its exact properties before moving into final mass production. Polypropylene is a clinically inert resin that will expand the effective use of 3D printers, especially for medical devices, process technologies, automotive, and chemical storage,” Professor Micic said.
Wolfbite ULTRA is available in 2 oz and 4 oz containers, yielding 50+ and 100+ prints, respectively, and comes with a foam brush applicator. It is available for sale on the Airwolf 3D website at an introductory price of $19.95. To use, the company provides simple directions:
- Shake well. Remove lid and dip foam applicator into solution.
- Apply by painting on cold glass with long strokes, covering the entire build area.
- Place glass onto heat bed and preheat to 100° C.