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Huntsman Offers Up New 3-D Printing Additives Optimized for Footwear

Huntsman Polyurethanes has released a new 3-D printing platform, Iroprint, featuring three new additives tailored for modern footwear production.

The new range of additives—for polyurethane resin, powder and filament production methods—will initially be used to make both customizable, small-batch footwear, along with mass-manufactured shoes lines, and Huntsman said they’ll be released for use in more products down the line.

Iroprint R, the resin-based additive solution, is a range of “soft, durable, one-component liquid resin systems” that can be used for stereolithography (SLA), digital light processing and other light-based or radiation-curing manufacturing processes. Iroprint P will be Huntsman’s new line of high-performance polyurethane powders to be used in high-speed sintering (HSS) productions. Finally, Iroprint F presents a filament-based option, useful for products that need an especially consistent diameter, for high-performance thermoplastic polyurethane printing in fused filament fabrication and extrusion-based techniques.

“Our innovation incubation team worked in close cooperation with end-users and industry leaders to develop our Iroprint additive manufacturing product portfolio,” Stephane Peysson, global business development manager at Huntsman Polyurethanes said during the platform’s unveiling at K 2019, one of the premier tradeshows for the global plastics and rubber industry. “Together, we looked closely at what makes a good 3-D printing material, and what’s been missing from the market to date. We believe the launch of our Iroprint additive manufacturing portfolio fills a gap that exists for a range of functional, durable, yet softer, 3-D printing materials, which are technology agnostic and both economical and easy to print—whatever your preferred production technique.”

Huntsman said the new 3-D printing product lines will be both easier to print and more valuable to footwear manufacturers thanks to upgraded abrasion and tear resistance properties, including higher resistance to elongation and distortion.

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In February, the chemical company’s polyurethane division also unveiled a selection of new footwear technology and materials for more traditional manufacturing. At the time, Huntsman said it would continue to make “key investments to support our core long-term growth” and predicted that its upcoming fourth quarter would be one of the strongest in its history.

To make that happen, Huntsman said it will continue to take heed of what the market wants and work with its manufacturing partners to serve a 3-D printing industry the company expects will continue to grow in coming years.

“Ahead of the launch of the range, we’ve been building relationships with key technology partners, which in turn work with some of the biggest footwear brands in the world. Further down the line, we see huge opportunities for our Iroprint additive manufacturing materials in other sectors of the 3-D printing market, from components for the automotive industry to objects for Internet of Things (IoT) applications,” Peysson said. “It is an incredibly exciting time to be in the additive manufacturing market, with estimates suggesting the sector is set to grow by more than 20 percent by 2024. We look forward to discussing the launch of our Iroprint additive manufacturing platform with anyone actively involved in 3D printing at the main K show in October.”