Custom Materials Development Enables Printed Parts for Aerospace that are Electrostatic Discharge Safe. 

By Scott Sevcik, Director, Aerospace & Defense Business Development, Stratasys

Once a satellite is launched, there is no way to fix something that breaks. That drives the need for incredibly high reliability in an extreme environment. Temperatures can range from -150°C to +150°C within an hour, there is no air flow, and electrostatic charges can build up very quickly. An electrostatic discharge can damage or destroy the sensitive electronics required to operate the satellite, leaving a very expensive piece of space trash behind.

All of these environmental extremes need to be planned for and addressed in the design of spacecraft equipment. The traditional advantages of additive manufacturing for aerospace – namely, reduced weight and increased design freedom – have led spacecraft and launch vehicle companies to ask Stratasys for help in addressing these challenging environments with 3D printing materials that can meet the extreme temperatures of space without risking electrostatic discharge.

This avionics box, 3D printed with Stratasys ESD PEKK material, can dissipate electrical charge buildup without relying on post-processing steps to prepare the production part.

This avionics box, 3D printed with Stratasys ESD PEKK material, can dissipate electrical charge buildup without relying on post-processing steps to prepare the production part.

To meet the growing demand for material solutions in high requirements industries, Stratasys Advanced Materials works closely with our customers to engineer materials to meet unique challenges. For the high-temperature, electrostatically-sensitive environments of space and electronics customers, Stratasys Advanced Materials developed a thermoplastic material called ESD PEKK (dissipative polyetherketoneketone). ESD PEKK’s material properties combine the unique advantage of ABS-ESD7’s electrostatic dissipative (ESD) properties , ULTEMTM 9085’s superior strength and thermal properties, and the chemical resistance of the PEKK base resin to offer a material that yields faster delivery of multi-functional production parts and tooling.

With the need for materials that dissipate electrostatic charge buildup to prevent damage to components, the space and electronics industries turn to post-processing methods such as coating, painting, and covering with conductive tape to meet ESD properties when using thermoplastics. ESD PEKK’s conductive filler is designed to eliminate the time and expense of additional post-processing steps and allows the part to be used right out of the printer. Additionally, its superior tensile strength and resistance to chemicals and high temperatures offers stability for production parts operating in extreme environments. Stratasys has generated a wide range of test data to support its adoption by customers with demanding requirements. Stratasys has also proven initial use cases to meet specific customer requirements, both on the ground and in space.

This material was developed to customer-specified requirements by Stratasys Advanced Materials. Stratasys Advanced Materials has the ability to develop and compound a wide range of materials tailored to application-specific requirements. Engineered Materials Programs through Advanced Materials, such as the ESD PEKK project, are offered as a service to customers seeking solutions to challenging material development problems. A whitepaper about the ESD PEKK project is available on the Stratasys website.

Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
The statements in this blog post relating to Stratasys’ beliefs regarding the benefits consumers will experience from the ESD PEKK 3D printing material and Stratasys’ expectation on the material’s availability are forward-looking statements reflecting management’s current expectations and beliefs. These forward-looking statements are based on current information that is, by its nature, subject to rapid and even abrupt change. Due to risks and uncertainties associated with Stratasys’ business, actual results could differ materially from those projected or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: the risk that consumers will not perceive the benefits of the ESD PEKK 3D printing material to be the same as Stratasys does; the risk that unforeseen technical difficulties will delay the availability of the ESD PEKK 3D printing material; and other risk factors set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” in Stratasys’ most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 3, 2015. Stratasys is under no obligation (and expressly disclaims any obligation) to update or alter its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as otherwise required by the rules and regulations of the SEC.

ULTEM™ is a registered trademark of SABIC or affiliates or subsidiaries.

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