SABIC, a global supplier of engineering thermoplastics, recently delivered the materials and processing expertise needed to create the first-ever fully functional 3D-printed vehicle, Strati, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS 2014).
We caught up with Tony Cerruti, Marketing Director, Americas, for SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business to gain his insight and deeper understanding about the project and other topics in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A session.
AMazing®: Tony, thank you for your participation. How exciting was it for the SABIC team to be a part of this first-ever project?
Tony Cerruti: We were excited to work with Local Motors, Cincinnati Incorporated, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to help bring the concept car to life. Local Motors’ pioneering effort to design and assemble a first-of-its-kind 3D-printed car will further propel the viability of additive manufacturing for small scale production.
AMazing®: How important was the collaborative effort and involving SABIC in the early stages of product development?
Tony Cerruti: The collaborative process is of utmost importance to SABIC. We find that being involved early in the process with manufacturers and designers at a project’s inception can be extremely beneficial. In particular, due to this project’s scale and complexity, fully understanding all of the requirements at an early stage and leveraging our experience in advanced processing technology and material solutions, all contributed to the overall success of the project.
SABIC worked closely with two key collaborators to produce Local Motors’ Strati concept vehicle: Cincinnati Incorporated, a large-scale manufacturing system builder that designed Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine which ultimately printed the car, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories which provided materials research, testing and validation. A number of materials were tested with Cincinnati Incorporated’s BAAM machine before they made the final selection to use SABIC’s LNP™ STAT-KON™ AE003 compound. From design to completion, the Strati concept was a first-of-its-kind collaborative effort that we were proud to be part of.
AMazing®: From a technology and materials standpoint, what made this large format 3D-printing technology challenging?
Tony Cerruti: One of the major challenges associated with a 3D-printing project of this size is minimizing warping. In the 3D-printing process, warping can occur as materials begin to shrink immediately after being deposited. By the time the second layer is extruded on top of the first layer, the first layer has had sufficient time to shrink. Because the two layers adhere together, the first layer restricts the shrinkage of the second layer. If the coefficient thermal expansion (CTE) is too high, stress can build up in the part and actually warp the long sections. While minor amounts of warping can be acceptable on smaller designs, the size of this project required the lowest possible CTE in order to be successful.
Cincinnati Incorporated selected the LNP™ STAT-KON™ material for its low CTE properties. STAT-KON compound is based on CYCOLAC™ resin, an ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) material that’s been successful in traditional 3D-printing processes. In general, amorphous thermoplastics like CYCOLAC™ resin perform well because they shrink less than crystalline thermoplastics as they cool, minimizing warping.
STAT-KON AE003 compound also contains 15% carbon fiber, a light-weighting preference as it has a lower specific gravity than most fillers and reinforcements, but also has a high strength-to-weight ratio compared to other thermoplastic additives, thus significantly lowering the CTE.
AMazing®: Would you talk to us about SABIC’s portfolio of materials for additive technologies?
Tony Cerruti: SABIC has a range of materials available for 3D-printed applications, including CYCOLAC™, ULTEM™, LEXAN™ and LNP™ resins and compounds. These materials, together with advanced additive manufacturing technology, help our customers across multiple industries bring designs to market faster, enabling mass customization and reducing the cost to innovate.
In addition to SABIC’s work with Local Motors on the Strati concept vehicle, we’ve worked with Stratasys and their patented Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology which allows design and manufacturing engineers to produce fully functional parts that are ideal for either advanced prototypes or end use – without the cost or lead time of traditional tooling. The direct digital manufacturing process uses filament made from SABIC’s ULTEM 9085 resin to produce small production runs, building parts layer by layer from the bottom up.
AMazing®: How have materials like SABIC’s ULTEM™ 9085 resin help to promote early adoption of additive technologies?
Tony Cerruti: SABIC’s ULTEM™ 9085 resin was one of our first materials solutions selected for additive manufacturing applications. As 3D-printing technology was still emerging, ULTEM 9085 resin provided an ideal entry point for manufacturers due to its high strength-to-weight ratio, elevated thermal resistance, chemical resistance, FST (Flame, Smoke, Toxicity) and cost-effective low production runs.
These initial projects in the additive manufacturing space resulted in improved machining costs and production efficiencies that were immediately apparent when compared with traditional technologies. ULTEM 9085 resin’s unique properties also allowed manufacturers to move away from simple prototypes and look toward creating functional, more complex components.
AMazing®: Switching gears to education, what career advice would you offer students interested in material science which support additive technologies?
Tony Cerruti: SABIC values talent graduating from materials science programs to possess a solid foundation in chemistry, engineering and knowledge of new and evolving technologies. As a member of America Makes, whose focus is to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing technologies in the U.S. manufacturing sector, we are supportive of their engagement with educational institutions to supply education and training in additive manufacturing technologies to create an adaptive, leading workforce.
AMazing®: Finally, how will SABICS’s material portfolio evolve in the next few years to meet the growing demand for customized designs in a fast-paced market? What do you hope to see?
Tony Cerruti: There are several manufacturing and material challenges unique to 3D-printing projects. SABIC has a wide portfolio of materials that can help address these specific challenges and vast experience in material solutions and validation, equipment specification, and processing for additive manufacturing applications. We are interested in developing new materials designed specifically for additive manufacturing in order to meet our customers’ growing demands for customized designs and increased performance requirements. We hope to see materials, process and design develop simultaneously in order to advance the technology as quickly as possible.
This concludes our interview. Tony, thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about SABIC’s involvement with the first-ever 3D-printed vehicle, and SABIC’s materials portfolio for additive technologies.
About Tony Cerruti:
Tony Cerruti is director of Americas industrial marketing for SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business – a leading, global supplier of engineering thermoplastics and a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), which ranks among the world’s top petrochemical companies. Cerruti is responsible for overseeing the development of unique regional solutions for SABIC’s customers in the Americas. Prior to his current role, he served as the LEXAN™ resins growth leader for SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business.
During his career, Cerruti has served in multiple leadership roles, including global product director responsible for LEXAN™ resins. Cerruti’s more than 18 years of industry experience also includes roles across sales and marketing.
Cerruti is a graduate of Ithaca College, holding a bachelor degree in Human Resource Management.
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) ranks among the world’s top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world’s market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.
SABIC recorded a net profit of SR 25.3 billion (US$ 6.7 billion) in 2013. Sales revenues for 2013 totaled SR 189 billion (US$ 50.4 billion). Total assets stood at SR 339.1 billion (US$ 90.4 billion) at the end of 2013.
SABIC’s businesses are grouped into Chemicals, Polymers, Performance Chemicals, Fertilizers, Metals and Innovative Plastics. SABIC has significant research resources with 19 dedicated Technology & Innovation facilities in Saudi Arabia, the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, Japan, India, China and South Korea. The company operates in more than 45 countries across the world with around 40,000 employees worldwide. SABIC manufactures on a global scale in Saudi Arabia, the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Headquartered in Riyadh, SABIC was founded in 1976 when the Saudi Arabian Government decided to use the hydrocarbon gases associated with its oil production as the principal feedstock for production of chemicals, polymers and fertilizers. The Saudi Arabian Government owns 70 percent of SABIC shares with the remaining 30 percent held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
About innovative Plastics
SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business is a leading, global supplier of engineering thermoplastics with an 80-year history of breakthrough solutions that solve its customers’ most pressing challenges. Today, Innovative Plastics is a multi-billion-dollar company with operations in more than 35 countries and approximately 9,000 employees worldwide. The company continues to lead the plastics industry with customer collaboration and continued investments in new polymer technologies, global application development, process technologies, and environmentally responsible solutions that serve diverse markets such as Healthcare, Transportation, Automotive, Electrical, Lighting and Consumer Electronics. The company’s extensive product portfolio includes thermoplastic resins, coatings, specialty compounds, film, and sheet. Innovative Plastics (www.sabic-ip.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).
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