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Thermoplastic Polyamide (TPA) is part of a group of traditional thermoplastic elastomers that generally exhibit characteristics similar to rubber and are known for their durability.
TPA is unique because, as a block-copolymer, the polyamide portion forms hard thermoplastic domains while the other block forms a soft elastomeric matrix. This results in an extremely versatile material that allows for performance, flexibility, and processability.
And while TPA can be used in a variety of production processes, GoProto offers TPA as a 3D printed solution for customers looking for a highly capable, production-grade material for applications where other elastomers may not be suitable.
Using TPA for 3D printed parts and production pieces has many benefits:
TPA has isotropic mechanical strength, meaning that it exhibits the same characteristics in all directions.
Low Molecular Weight
Because TPA has an inherently low molecular weight, 3D printed parts are lighter compared to the same part produced using other materials.
Excellent Temperature Performance
Because of its high melting point, TPA is resistant to high temperatures while still also performing well in low temperatures.
Chemical and Abrasion Resistance
Performance in a variety of environments is often critical. TPA is both highly resistant to chemicals as well as highly abrasion resistant.
Tear and Fatigue
TPA exhibits a very high tear strength and is very low fatigue.
As a highly durable material, TPA is extremely flexible and exhibits elasticity ranging from 300% and higher.
Because of its hybrid structure of hard thermoplastic domains with softer polyester blocks, TPA has a high energy return.
Of course, many 3D printed parts require additional processing to give them the right surface finish. TPA can be vapor smoothed to remove layer lines and smoothen the part’s surface, but TPA printed parts also see some gain in performance characteristics when vapor smoothed. For one, while TPA already exhibits high tear strength, vapor smoothing increases tear strength considerably. Secondly, vapor smoothing improves elongation. 3D printed parts using TPA already exhibit 300%+ elongation as printed. By applying the vapor smoothing process to the part, elongation can be increased to 400%+.
3D printed TPA has a variety of applications across a multitude of industries, including automotive, robotics, electronics, footwear and apparel, and machinery. One specialty application is in sports equipment, especially in winter sports equipment exposed to extreme cold. And because of its temperature characteristics and resistance to chemicals, it can be used in medical industries. Additional applications include jigs, fixtures and assembly lines, end of arm tooling, and durable soft goods. It is also excellent for lattices, tubes and bellows as well as parts with large undercuts and trapped volumes.
GoProto now offers 3D printed TPA as part of its growing portfolio of 3D printing processes and materials. For customers looking for solutions requiring the unique physical properties of TPA, GoProto can produce and vapor smooth parts for applications where traditional production processes and materials fall short.
For a video showing examples of our 3D printed TPA: