ULTEM (PEI) Material in 3D Printing – What Makes it Special

ULTEM is a commercial name for Polyetherimide (PEI). There are various grades of ULTEM depending on the additional additives and reinforcements added to it, but in this article we will look at 2 of the most commonly heard grades, the ULTEM 1010 and the ULTEM 9085. Both ULTEM 1010 and ULTEM 9085 are industrial grade engineering materials having great strength, durability, chemical resistance. Stratasys has pioneered in producing both the ULTEM 1010 and the ULTEM 9085 filaments and their industrial FDM printers Fortus 900 and Fortus 450 MC are specifically tailored for printing them. Although not as strong as PEEK, let’s see what both these materials have to offer that make them stand out for specific automotive and aerospace applications.

ULTEM 1010

Strength: ULTEM 1010 is a high strength material having a tensile strength of 110 MPa.

Printability: It has a printing temperature of 350 to 390 degreesCelsius making it unsuitable for printing in general purpose FDM style printers.

Thermal Stability: It is a thermally stable material with a very high glass transition temperature of 217degreesCelsius compared to more common material PLA which has a glass transition temperature of only 60degreesCelsius

Chemical Resistance: Resistant to a wide range of chemicals like alcohols, acids, oils and aqueous solutions.

Other Properties: It is also certified as food-safe material (NSF 51) and bio compatible material (ISO 10993/USP Class VI certifications). Food safe material means that the food does not become toxic or harmful if it comes in contact with food, but the surface of the part needs to be finished to prevent growth of bacteria.

Applications: Due to its food-safe and bio compatible certifications, it is used for prototyping in food industry and medical industry. And due to its strength and chemical resistance, some of the automotive and aerospace parts are also being printed with ULTEM 1010.

ULTEM 9085

Strength: ULTEM 9085 is also a high strength material having a tensile strength of 90 MPa.

Printability: It is relatively easier to get the print settings right to be able to print ULTEM 9085 compared to ULTEM 9085. It has a printing temperature of 370 to 390 degreesCelsius.

Thermal Stability: It is also a thermally stable material with a very high glass transition temperature of 156degreesCelsius.

Chemical Resistance: Resistant to a wide range of chemicals like alcohols, acids, oils and aqueous solutions.

Applications:

ULTEM 9085 has gained a lot of attention across industries particularly the aerospace industry due to its Flame Retardant capability and has got FST (Fire, Smoke and Toxicity) compliant certification for aircraft cabin parts under UL94 V0 specifications and also meets FAR 25.863 regulations.

Business class headphone cabinet part (left) and First class lavatory part (right) are 3D-printed in Ultem 9085 material with the Stratasys Fortus 900mc industrial FDM printer.

Comparison Table

 PropertyULTEM 1010ULTEM 9085
Tensile Strength110 MPa90 MPa
Density1.27 g/cc1.34 g/cc
Glass Transition Temperature217 C156 C
Heat Deflection Temperature241 C153 C
Extrusion Temperature350-390 C370-390 C

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