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Independent UL 3D Printing Research Study on Safety and Performance for 3D Printed Plastic Parts

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Header image for blogpost UL 3D Printing Research Study at 3DPrinting.Lighting. Image and logo courtesy of UL

Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a leading safety science company based in Northbrook, Illinois, recently published its research findings detailing the effects of 3D printing on safety-critical polymer performance properties. The UL 3D Printing Research study findings have been used to develop a framework for evaluating and qualifying materials, helping stakeholders across the additive manufacturing (AM) supply chain to mitigate risk and deliver quality and performance.

UL 3D Printing Research Study

The key topics UL investigated include flammability, ignition and electrical properties of samples that were 3D printed against samples manufactured using conventional, injection-molded methods. UL Researchers identified significant safety and performance variations and concluded that performance ratings from traditional manufacturing techniques cannot be applied when the same material is used in a 3D printing process to print a 3D part.

UL Blue Card Certification Program

In response, UL has developed a certification program for plastics for additive manufacturing (Blue Card), The UL Blue Card presents the data necessary to ensure the integrity and usefulness of materials intended for 3D printing and 3D printed components and products. A Blue Card is automatically issued when a material intended for 3D printing receives a UL Recognized Component Mark.

“UL Researchers identified significant safety and performance variations and concluded that performance ratings from traditional mFG. techniques cannot be applied IN 3D pRINTING”

UL Certified AM materials are published in UL’s publicly available Product iQTM database, making them searchable to thousands of manufacturers looking for a certified 3D material. By using an independently tested and certified 3D material, end-product manufacturers can save time and money certifying their end-products or systems. As Blue Cards are specific to a 3D printer, a 3D printer manufacturer can also certify material for explicit use on his equipment.

Certified Plastics for AM Whitepaper

Read UL’s white paper ‘Certifying plastics for additive manufacturing’ to get an overview on UL’s research. A copy of the detailed research study is available for download, in addition to the study ‘Processing the Future of Additive Manufacturing‘ that was published back in 2018.

Back in 2015, UL published its first compliance guideline, titled “3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing Equipment Compliance Guideline” as well as its “E-Learning Program teaching the basics of 3D Printing“.

For more information about UL’s certification program for Plastics for Additive Manufacturing program, visit UL.com/BlueCard.