Editor’s Pick: Debuting filament-based stainless steel for additive manufacturing

Forward AM/BASF Ultrafuse 17-4PH is a filament comprising metal powder with a polymer binder.

Forward AM/BASF Ultrafuse 17-4PH is a filament comprising metal powder with a polymer binder.

Pictured here is a Ultrafuse 17-4PH spool. Ultrafuse 17-4PH is now available to customers from service bureaus, distributors and through online service Sculpteo. Image courtesy of Forward AM/BASF.

Forward AM, a subsidiary of chemicals giant BASF, introduces the latest in its growing line of fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing materials. Ultrafuse 17-4PH is a filament comprising metal powder with a polymer binder. After debinding and sintering, the final 3D printed part is 17-4 stainless steel. 

Forward AM says Ultrafuse 17-4PH can be fully heat treated to high levels of strength and hardness. This makes it ideal for petrochemical, aerospace, automotive and medical manufacturing. 

The filament obtains its final hardness through a catalytic debinding and sintering, known from traditional metal injection molding. 

The company says this new stainless steel filament is an “easy and affordable way” to bring stainless steel into additive manufacturing (AM). It combines high strength and hardness with good corrosion resistance. A wide variety of post-processing options are available to finish prints as green parts. 

An example part created by Forward AM during final testing is a spare part solar panel clamp. The clamp was a discontinued serial product. Replacement parts had to match the original for weather resistance (UV radiation, heat, moisture) and be a long-life solution, as it was an upgrade from aluminum to stainless steel. 

Ultrafuse 17-4PH is compatible with most FFF 3D printers; many are open source. 

Ultrafuse 17-4PH is a stainless steel filament with a polymer binder made for many FFF 3D printers. Image courtesy of Forward AM.

Ultrafuse 17-4PH is also referred to as Type 630. The company says this chromium-copper martensitic precipitation hardened stainless steel is magnetic and fully heat treatable. The material is able to maintain its mechanical and corrosion resistance at temperatures up to 315°C (600°F). 

Ultrafuse 17-4PH filaments can be ordered from distributors if users want to print themselves. A full list of sales partners of Ultrafuse 17-4PH filaments is available here. Alternatively, there is the possibility to order parts printed with Ultrafuse 17-4 PH through Sculpteo’s online platform.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website. 

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