From European Plastics News
Frankfurt, Germany -- The Fraunhofer Umsicht institute in Oberhausen displayed a sport shoe at Euromold 2011, held 27-30 Nov in Frankfurt, with a prototype outer sole made for the first time by selective laser sintering (SLS) of a thermoplastic polyurethane powder developed by the institute.
Rapid Product Manufacturing, based in Helmstedt, Germany, produced the sole using the new TPU, which is available in the market from January 2012.
According to Fraunhofer, the new material combines high strength, flexibility and wear resistance, opening up new application areas for the SLS additive technology process for TPU parts that can be made in "several hours." The SLS process enables TPU parts to be built up with very elastic foam structure interiors through to firm outer surfaces.
One of the Fraunhofer material development specialists, Marcus Rechberger, said: "Automotive hoses can be optimally produced with the material, as much as can pneumatic structures for robotic tooling. In the orthopaedic area, tailor-made shoes are conceivable that grow around the foot."
On the Fraunhofer stand at Euromold, properties of the material displayed were: tensile strength of 30MPa, elongation up to just over 400 percent, Shore A hardness of 90 and density 1.2.
Fraunhofer claims the TPU "cake powder" is 100 percent re-usable.