Toon Roels, R&D manager at Materialise, told Urethanes Technology International magazine, that over the last five years laser sintering is showing the fastest growth. “The market may be small today but the projection is that it will become an attractive market.” The online marketplace currently offers 21 materials including a bio TPU modified by Lehmann&Voss&Co.
“Much of the sales is tied with honouring the individual and that is almost a movement against mass production. The efficiency of traditional manufacturing plants is because of volume. It needs a different approach. It could be that different players in the market get this difference,” Roels added.
"There is extra value in personalised products, the better fit and higher comfort achievable with 3D print processes."
Toon Roels, R&D manager at Materialise
Roels said the difference was already being felt in high end markets because of consumers’ ability to pay extra.
“There is extra value in personalised products, the better fit and higher comfort achievable with 3D print processes, especially in markets like eyewear and footwear insoles. It could be that this becomes a very usual market for TPU.”
Among the higher profile uses for Materialise’ TPU – which the firm describes to customers as a rubber-like material – was the creation of a 3D print dress by Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen in 2013.