Germany’s Bayer MaterialScience (U.S. office in Pittsburgh) and Solid Composites GmbH have partnered to develop TPU powders for SLS (selective laser sintering), a digital rapid-prototyping and additive-manufacturing method for fabricating 3D structures by using a laser beam to sinter thin layers of powdered materials. Solid Composites in Voerde, Germany, is a new spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology in Germany. It develops and supplies thermoplastic powders for laser sintering, electrostatic coating, and other uses. It will market the new TPU powders under the name Desmosint.
The partners expect Desmosint to open up potential applications in automotive, sporting goods, robotics, and aerospace engineering. Until now, SLS materials have included mainly soft, elastic materials and rigid thermoplastics such as nylon. TPU closes the gap between those material classes. SLS eliminates the cost of molds, and allows creation of complex geometries with undercuts.