Innovation Toray’s Spherical Polyamide Particles Might Transform 3D Printing

Editor: Ahlam Rais

Toray has developed a new technique which is capable of producing high-quality micro-level spherical particles of polyamide with high melting points. The technique helps to control average particle sizes and also create uniformly sized particles.

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Samples of 3D-printed objects made of spherical polyamide 6 particles.
Samples of 3D-printed objects made of spherical polyamide 6 particles.
(Source: Toray)

Tokyo/ Japan – Toray Industries has recently announced that it has devised a technique that makes it simple to produce micro-level spherical particles of polyamide having high melting points (polyamide 6, polyamide 66). It has been difficult to achieve true spheroidisation with these synthetic polymers. This new technique could revolutionise 3D printing by enabling the production of practical parts that are superior in strength and are heat-resistant.

Polyamide particles, many of which are non-spherical shaped and are of low melting point polyamides (polyamide 12), are used as lubricants in cosmetics and as materials in powder-based 3D printing.

In order to create high-quality 3D printed objects, truly spherical particles with outstanding fluidity and uniform fillability would be ideal. Especially, polyamide particles of high melting points would be vital for practical parts in view of their superior strength and heat resistance. The drawback with conventional production techniques, however, has been the difficulty of creating truly spherical polyamide particles with high melting points that need to be handled with high-temperature conditions.

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Toray therefore drew on the polyamide polymerisation technology it accumulated over many years of R&D, and has created a new technique to produce truly spherical particles at the same time with the polyamide polymerisation from monomer.

As this technology can handle high-temperature conditions, not only polyamide 12 of low melting point polyamide but polyamide 6 and 66 of high melting point polyamide can be straightforwardly made into truly spherical particles as well. Moreover, this technique makes it possible to control average particle sizes between several microns through several hundred microns, and then uniformly sized particles can also be made.

The 3D printing tests using the newly developed polyamide 6 particles confirmed that moulded objects offer outstanding heat resistance and superior strength. Toray will continue to scale-up the technique and apply it to automotive and other parts.