Dow Talks New EVOLV3D Universal Support Material, 3D Printing Market

Dow R&D Manager Nathan Wilmot told Plastics Technology the EVOLV3D USM addresses longstanding challenges in Fused Filament Fabrication related to broad compatibility and solubility.

Dow Chemical Co. (Dow) has developed the new EVOLV3D Universal Support Material (USM), which is now commercially available through Taulman 3D Printing Materials. Dow R&D Manager Nathan Wilmot told Plastics Technology the EVOLV3D USM addresses longstanding challenges in Fused Filament Fabrication related to broad compatibility and solubility. EVOLV3D USM empowers designers to create functional, complex parts from build materials that previously lacked a compatible support material, which enables greater design freedom, accelerates product-development cycles and offers other distinct performance benefits.

The support material is safe to handle and easy to remove, reducing the risk of chemical exposure for end-users and eliminating harmful waste generation during and after the printing/removal process, he says. While remaining stable during use, EVOLV3D USM is biodegradable and readily dissolves in water for removal, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals at elevated temperatures or mechanical processes for removal.

EVOLV3D USM supports 3D printing in settings where chemical handling processes may not be in place, including in homes, offices and academic labs.

Dow Market Segment Manager Keith Wilson says that Dow has been involved in materials development for 3D printing applications for several years. 

“Recent announcements unveiling new materials simply represent initial steps into the commercialization phase where these innovations can be brought to market,” he says. “Both the recently announced Universal Support Material and the Liquid Silicone Rubber LC 3335 that was developed in partnership with German RepRap and announced last year represent solutions that we feel will address gaps in the additive manufacturing materials landscape to enable broader adoption of 3D printing in new applications.”

He added that beyond these initial offerings, the company has several other novel innovative materials under development that are expected to launch in the coming months and years as part of the EVOLV3D material platform.

The Dow EVOLV3D platform of high-performance materials for 3D printing aims to solve some of the most pressing issues in 3D printing to enable greater design freedom, reduce product development cycles, and offer distinct performance benefits.

With regards to the 3D printing market in terms of growth potential, Wilson said: “As a whole we recognize that 3D printing as a tool in product development to create prototypes is a rather mature market. In manufacturing applications where finished parts are produced, however, we believe 3D printing is still in its infancy as manufacturers are only beginning to scratch the surface of the technology’s true potential. This market is continually evolving and to realize this potential will require advancements not only in material development, but also in printer speed, resolution and design software.”

“Due to the speed of innovation we regularly witness in this space, as well as the technology’s ability to address challenges across a broad range of industries and applications, we anticipate growing adoption, especially in applications aiming to reduce component parts, enable short run production and in consumer products where mass customization is desired,” he says.