Z2 Polyimide, one of this year's most interesting 3D printing polymers, was put to the test by Zymergen, Hexagon, 3D4Makers, and AON3D Industrial 3D Printers. The new, simple-to-3D-print Polyimide formulation produced some very intriguing results in tests sponsored by The Royal Netherlands Navy's Expertise Centre Additive Manufacturing (ECAM): a high strength, highly isotropic AM polymer part that, despite its tiny cross-section, withstood 432 kg of load before failing.
The Z2 Polyimide part printed on the AON M2+ fractured precisely where the Digimat AM program had indicated it would, and it propagated across numerous layers as opposed to just one layer. For a polymer extrusion-based item, this shows a remarkable amount of isotropy.
Predictive modeling and simulation were performed on a tie-down bracket for military cargo planes using Hexagon's Digimat AM software, a technology that can shorten overall lead times and simulate the performance of end-parts. The component was then mechanically tested after being 3D printed in Z2 Polyimide with 100% infill on the AON M2+ High Temperature Industrial 3D Printer.
The Results – FFF Isotropy that nears Bulk Material Z Properties
The item withstood a 432 kg load before failing in testing, and Hexagon's program correctly predicted a loading failure point. Z2 Polyimide has a similar tensile modulus as ULTEMTM 9085, however it is stronger and has more elongation at break than that material. This shows that Z2 potentially has far higher component isotropy and interlayer weld strength than ULTEMTM. This high isotropy was discovered during testing when a part fractured through multiple layers in two different places, showing that the layers, rather than inter-layer welds, had followed the stress front in accordance with the overall structure.
The material has potential as an alternative to ULTEMTM due to Z2 Polyimide's increased strength, isotropy, and likelihood of meeting UL94 V0 and FAR 25.853 (FST) standards (testing is still ongoing).
The test's findings ultimately demonstrate that open material industrial 3D printers are rapidly progressing the 3D printing industry, whereas closed systems lag far behind.
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