PRESCOTT, Wis.—A new material from Infinite Material Solutions, LLC could have additive manufacturers dreaming up new applications in such fields as filtration, separators, and personal protective equipment, as well as footwear.
The material, Caverna™ PP, is reported to be the first extrudable thermoplastic with a water-soluble, co-continuous, microporous morphology. It is a 3D printing filament that enables users to create lightweight foam parts resembling a sponge, Infinite Material Solutions said in a release.
Infinite Material Solutions develops what it calls “wholly unique materials for additive manufacturing.” Its latest material, Caverna PP, is specifically designed for use in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) systems, and is the first in a line of Caverna™ build materials that Infinite plans to introduce. Each one will be a unique blend of two polymers: a soluble material to be removed through dissolution, and an insoluble build material (in this case, polypropylene) to remain. After dissolution, the water-soluble phase leaves behind a cave-like network of microporous, interconnected channels inside the build material, making it light, soft, and porous, according to Infinite.
One area of particular interest is the potential to create porous tooling for the production of vacuum formed parts. Caverna PP’s co-continuous distribution of tiny pores (1–4µ) could allow for consistent airflow, eliminating the need to drill holes, and maximizing material distribution, the company said.
“With so many breakthroughs happening on a regular basis, additive manufacturing is an exciting space to participate in,” said Larry Doerr, chief operating officer for Infinite Material Solutions, in the release. “I’m extremely proud of our team for once again creating a material that stands out and redefines what’s possible with FFF — and I’m excited to watch the industry take Caverna PP’s unique capabilities and run with them.”
Caverna PP joins two other novel materials in Infinite’s portfolio: AquaSys® 120 and AquaSys® 180 water-soluble support filaments. These materials pair with popular build materials, ranging from PLA to PEEK, to support complex designs, then dissolve quickly in tap water to leave behind a finished part. Infinite recommends pairing Caverna PP with AquaSys 120 for one-step dissolution. Users can simply print the part, leave it to dissolve, and come back to find a complete build with a microporous structure, the company said.