Introducing Flexibility to 3D Printing – The PRO FLEX Filament by BigRep

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BigRep is excited to announce its latest filament innovation, which is a first for the large-scale FDM industry globally. World, meet PRO FLEX: a flexible material with engineering-grade properties for a various of industrial applications.

This new TPU-based material opens up a wealth of possibilities for manufacturers and customers. PRO FLEX has been expertly developed and tested by BigRep’s team to work in connection with BigRep’s largest industrial 3D printer, the BigRep ONE, on its standard 1 mm extruder. It’s not hard to sing the praises of this skillfully engineered material: high temperature resistance, low temperature impact resistance, a durable material with excellent damping behavior and dynamic properties… The list goes on, and most importantly, it is a filament that will enable companies to explore a broader range of manufacturing opportunities using 3D-print technology.

For the automotive industry, it enables prototyping for gear knobs, door handles, cable sheathing and more. The sporting goods industry could also foreseeably benefit, as the PRO Flex filament allows rapid prototyping of skateboard wheels, sporting shoe shells, ski tips and ends. For any objects requiring flexible parts – PRO Flex is the go-to printing material.

BigRep’s Chief Technology Officer Moshe Aknin is excited about the number of parts and applications that PRO FLEX will make possible, saying, “Printing elastomers is clearly one of the biggest challenges in the FFF AM industry, so we are proud to have found an industrial-grade solution. In terms of applications with PRO FLEX, we see high potential for 3D printing in fields like footwear, custom vibration dampers, and seals, due to its high chemical resistance.”

In developing the innovative thermoplastic elastomer, which is a Shore 98 A on the Shore Hardness scale, BigRep’s team of engineers working on the project were faced with issues such as stringing and oozing, particularly at the layer height and speeds with which they print on the BigRep ONE. To overcome this challenge, the team analyzed how elastomers behave with its printers’ extruders and achieved the end result by adapting its material evaluation procedure accordingly.

The PRO Flex is now available for the ONE and STUDIO providing unique industrial use cases for manufacturers.

BigRep developed and meticulously tested the flexible 3D printing filament itself, which was an eye-opening, exciting journey. “The journey of evaluating a flexible material was quite challenging and exciting at the same time,” said Markus Bucher, Product Manager Materials at BigRep. “While the evaluation process was ongoing, we noticed very positive features of the TPU, such as good bed adhesion. The TPU sticks nicely to the Kapton tape delivered with the standard ONE v.3 setup, allowing us to print large parts without detachment issues.”

BigRep does advise that customers should be experienced in handling extrusion of flexible materials, as they can be more challenging than most. To help guide customers, BigRep will provide a guidance document for using the PRO Flex filament, and as part of the BigRep 360-degree service, customer service technicians are also on hand to assist with your printing needs.

As for more exciting photo and video sneak peaks at what PRO FLEX can do, and how it can change the ways companies can innovate, stay tuned to BigRep’s social media channels.

Key Characteristics of the BigRep PRO FLEX

Material: TPU
Density: 1.2 g/cm³
Diameter: 2.85 mm
Print Temperature Guideline: 195 - 230 °C
Heating Bed: 0 - 60 °C
Vicat Softening Point (ISO 306): 115 °C
Tensile Strength (ISO 527): 40 MPa
Tear Strength (ISO 34-1B): 175 kN/m
Ultimate Elongation (ISO 527): 470 %