By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Redeye, the on-demand parts and prototyping division of Stratasys, says it became the first service provider to offer its customers ULTEM more than a year ago. Now, not only did I miss that announcement, I know ULTEM from nothing – which probably indicates that the news went by me on a day when my need for ignorance overruled my need to learn. (At 56, a more frequent event.) Still, they asked me to check it out and write you about it, so I started poking around.
The first thing I learn is that ULTEM appears to be the strongest thermoplastic available for FDM (fused deposition method) parts. FDM is the long-proven rapid prototyping and direct digital manufacturing technology that made Stratasys famous. I learned that ULTEM is lightweight, flame-retardant, and can handle some flexing.
Redeye says that ULTEM is suitable for direct digital manufacturing applications in such industries as automotive, aerospace, electrical component, transportation, marine, military, and pump and valve. In fact, the blend of the material Redeye offers, ULTEM 9085, is a certified for flight, although parts produced by Redeye are not flight qualified since getting the certifications in order would be your responsibility.
So, what do you do with ULTEM? Well, you can use ULTEM whenever you’re designing something that requires high-strength, lightweight, and heat-resistant plastic. Besides runs of fully functional, low-volume parts, you can use it for jigs, fixtures, as well as advanced form and function testing. And, of course, we’re talking about working with Redeye. It offers immediate price quotes, so you know the budget parameters. And it also means that you get the build capacity and efficiencies of a service provider with more than 100 rapid prototyping and direct digital manufacturing systems worldwide.
You can read about ULTEM’s specs for smoke and toxicity, heat deflection, and the rest of the mechanical and thermal properties and characteristics from the link over there. When you get to the ULTEM page, look for the spec sheet download on the right.
Thanks, pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering