BASF Forward AM: A Look at One of Additive Manufacturing's Top Chemical Producers
BASF Forward AM is the production branch of BASF that creates a wide range of additive manufacturing materials for businesses and personal 3D printing. They work with some of the most well-known and trusted companies in additive manufacturing to create consistent, quality materials for every step of the 3D printing process for every industry under the sun. Whether you’re 3D printing fixtures for your home, or an engineer designing a critical part for a superbike that will travel at hundreds of miles an hour, the team at BASF Forward AM is invested in every aspect of your success.
Investing in research and development has long been one of the hallmarks of BASF, and in 2017 BASF 3D Printing Solutions Group was formed to specifically address the new advances in the 3D printing industry for a multitude of industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical, and consumer goods, to name a few. They also invest in business development in the functional industrial application of 3D printing along with numerous partners. They have continuously innovated new materials, service offerings, and integrated system solutions.
Between 2017 and 2019, BASF accumulated the expertise of smaller companies through purchasing, and in 2019 Forward AM was formed and is tasked with the dynamic approach to growing the industrial manufacturing sector with their expertise and growing list of corporate partners.
BASF Forward AM supports innovation in the production of complex parts at affordable costs using superior formulations of materials. Using engineering-grade materials in open material systems brings down the cost per part, increases the materials available for use, and is highly customizable on a case by case basis. By optimizing designs, mechanical properties can be enhanced with the bare minimum of material needed for fabrication without waste.
Much of this innovation was derived from looking for alternative materials for every level of manufacturing; from prototyping to end-use parts, in a myriad of vertical markets. These materials were also needed for every size machine, from desktop fabrication with consumer 3D printers, as well as industrial-grade 3D printers capable of fabrication at higher temperatures for advanced materials like polypropylene, PPSU, PEI, and 316L to name a few.
Recently, the worldwide pandemic impacted traditional manufacturing methods and supply chains, which were highly disrupted making materials scarce and delaying shipments from the manufacturer to the consumer. This encounter led many manufacturers to start relying on in-house manufacturing and prototyping methods that only 3D printing could facilitate.
Prior to the pandemic, companies in the aerospace, automotive, prosthesis, sporting goods, and many more sectors, were adopting new additive manufacturing methods and materials to increase production, decrease turnaround time on prototypes, and lower operating expenses using 3D design and 3D printing in-house rather than outsourcing to other companies.
In one case study of aerospace design as an example, a manufacturer needed an airflow pipe that would fit inside the fuselage of an aircraft with the following design constraints:
- Guide air efficiently around corners
- Minimize pressure loss while respecting a predesigned space
- The part needs to be heat-resistant and flame-retardant
- Minimize weight while fulfilling the three previous constraints
In addition, as you can see from the diagram, there were several physical design constraints that needed to be considered. Forward AM tackled the challenge using their Ultrasim™ simulation software to replace laborious and costly material testing. Then using their Virtual Engineering software, they re-engineered the part from scratch. Using the new design based on additive technology and materials, the newly redesigned part was made to be printed using both filament fabrication as well as laser sintering. For the filament fabrication, they chose Ultrafuse™ PPSU - a lightweight, flame-resistant 3D printing material that was a perfect fit.
In addition to Ultrafuse™ PPSU, BASF Forward AM has a large library of engineering-grade materials that are ideal for use in industrial applications including:
There are also several types of filament that can be used for a variety of different applications such as Ultrafuse™ PRO1 PLA, TPU, PET, and more.
With the broad range of materials available, as well as the years of research and development involved in every filament, and the knowledge of design and fabrication behind BASF Forward AM, their materials are highly recommended for any application from prototyping to engineering-grade fabrication for a multitude of industry sectors.
Learn more about BASF Forward AM here.
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